Sports Odisha
lost to
Kickstart FC 1 (Sonia Marak 13’)
AIFF Media Team

BHUBANESWAR: Title aspirants Kickstart FC strengthened their position in IWL 2023-24 when they defeated bottom side Sports Odisha 1-0 at the Capital Football Arena on Saturday, February 10, 2024. Midfielder Sonia Marak scored the all-important goal in the 13th minute.

The win proved to be a crucial one for the Bangalore-based side, as the three points took Kickstart FC to second in the league table. Having played nine matches so far, Kickstart have 20 points, equal to that of leaders Gokulam Kerala FC, who too have played the same number of matches. The Kerala side, however, enjoy a better goal difference.

Mighty Odisha FC, who once looked like they were simply running away with the title, have now been pushed to third place with 19 points after the defeat against Gokulam in their last outing. The race for the title in the seven-team home-and-away league has certainly now turned interesting, with very little to separate the top three sides.

If Kickstart FC could be levelled as a prodigal lot, who wasted a series of chances to widen the lead, then Sports Odisha have only themselves to blame for suffering their seventh defeat in nine encounters. While they did well in initiating some attacking moves, a couple of mistakes proved crucial for them. It includes the way they conceded the goal in the first half and then frittered away a spot-kick awarded to them in the second session.

The goal by Sonika Marak could have certainly been saved had Sports Odisha goalkeeper Spandita Das not made a mess while collecting the ball. After skipper Dalima Chibber floated the ball at the goalmouth from the right, Sonia’s header didn’t have too much of a punch and was within the grasp of Spandita. She, however, failed to make a clean collection and the ball slipped through her hands to roll into the home team’s net.

In the 62nd minute, Odisha FC attacker Deepa Naik was brought down inside the box by a defender. It resulted in a penalty kick. Defender Ratna Haldar stepped up to take the spot kick and sent it wide of the right post. As if it weren’t enough, the losers missed at least two chances which had goals written all over them.

Of course, more opportunities were wasted by the winners. It didn’t matter in this game since they walked away with full points, but in the long run, it may come back to hurt them if the goal difference between the teams becomes crucial in deciding the honours list.