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Urawa Red Diamonds vs Gokulam Kerala FC Match Preview – AFC Women’s Club Championship 2023

Gokulam Kerala begin its journey in the AFC Women’s Club Championship 2023 with a pulsating clash against Japan league winners Urawa Red Diamonds in Thailand.

Last updated: 05.11.2023
Urawa Red Diamonds vs Gokulam Kerala FC Match Preview

Urawa Red Diamonds vs Gokulam Kerala FC Match Details

Date: Monday, 6 November 2023

Time: 15:00 (IST)

Venue: Chonburi Stadium, Chonburi


Urawa Red Diamonds vs Gokulam Kerala FC Match Preview

Urawa Red Diamonds will be making their debut in the AFC Women’s Club Championship by winning their first domestic league title last season. They were also runners-up in the inaugural edition last year but finished eight points clear at the top this time by winning 17 out of 20 games losing just twice. Despite being an inexperienced side at the continental stage, the WE League giants will be the favourite to win their group containing winners of Thailand, Chinese Taipei and India to make it to the final. Winning the competition is also a possible factor due to the top quality possessed by the squad. Urawa will replicate the success of the men’s side, three times AFC Champions League winners, if they can do so. The team has a combination of former and present players from the national team with some experiencing Japan’s run to the quarterfinals in the Women’s World Cup 2023. Naoki Kusunose’s side will play their first-ever game in Asia’s club competition against Gokulam Kerala who have experience in this tournament. The game will not be too unfamiliar for certain players from both sides as Japan and India only weeks ago in the Olympic Qualifiers. Nadeshiko won the encounter fairly comfortably with a 7-0 margin with two stars from the club, Hikaru Naomoto and Kiko Seike scoring while Hana Takahashi featured in the backline. Hence, the Reds Ladies will wish for a winning start with all the games of their group hosted in Thailand at the Chonburi Stadium.

Gokulam Kerala continue to build their legacy in women’s football in India securing a hat-trick of Indian Women’s League or IWL wins earlier this year. Hence, the Malabarians got the opportunity to play the AFC Women’s Club Championship once again having finished third in their debut campaign in 2021. They almost played the competition again last year but had to pull out at the last minute after AIFF was temporarily banned by FIFA. Gokulam also secured a historic victory in the 2021 edition against Uzbek side Bunyodkor but repeating the feat could be difficult this time. Beating the likes of Urawa Red Diamonds, Hualien and Bangkok FC to the top spot will require an unprecedented effort from the girls. Their coach Anthony Andrews, who was on the touchline in the last participation, will hope to work miracles on the continental stage this time. As a case, Gokulam has also made eye-catching moves in the summer bringing the likes of Iranian national team striker Hajar Dabbaghi and other prominent foreign and local signings. Having key players from the Indian national team will help as well but those switching duties and lack of competitive action in months for the others could be a detrimental factor for the side. The first job for the IWL winners will be to avoid a thrashing like the Blue Tigresses in their opener against Urawa Red Diamonds or frankly a defeat. Despite the challenges, a win is possible in the next two games of the group. Gokulam is building their hope on that to shine again. In addition to the star signings, Gokulam Kerala has also to deal with the departure of two key contributors of their IWL success over the years in   record scorer Sabitra Bhandari and midfield creator Indumathi Kathiresan. It is left to see how the team adapt in their absence and while the new faces could prove a difference.               

Urawa Red Diamonds vs Gokulam Kerala FC Squads


Urawa Red Diamonds

Goalkeepers: Sakiko Ikeda, Shiori Fukuda, Sawako Suzuki, Maya Ino

Defenders: Kana Osafune, Rion Ishikawa, Hana Takahashi, Reina Nagashima, Minori Takahashi, Wakaba Goto, Nonoko Kawai, Kotone Nishimura, Raika Okamura

Midfielders: Mayu Sasaki, Miki Ito, Akari Kurishima, Hikaru Naomoto, Fuka Tsunoda, Yuki Mizutani, Yu Endo, Hanae Shibata, Yuzuho Shiokoshi, Hiroka Ipposhi, Ririka Tanno, Satoko Fujisaki, Risako Watanabe, Ena Takatsuka

Forwards: Yuika Sugasawa, Kozue Ando, Kiko Seike, Mei Shimada, Hanon Nishio

Head Coach: Naoki Kusunose

Gokulam Kerala

Goalkeeper: Beatrice Ntiwaa Nketia, Sowmiya Narayanasami, Payale Basude

Defenders: Alexiba Palliparambil, Manju Baby, Dhurga Perumal, Kritina Devi, Phoeby Okech Owiti, Roja Devi, Reshma Chandran

Midfielders: Grace Dangmei (Captain), Shubanghi Singh, Baby Lalcchandami, Musken Subba, Shilky Devi, Priyadharshini Selladurai

Forwards: Sandhya Ranganathan, Veronica Appiah, Hajar Dabbaghi, Dharshini Devi, Manasa Kunnathu, Soumya Guguloth, Sumati Kumari

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