AQABA : Gokulam Kerala FC defeated FC Bunyodkor
3-1 to finish third in the AFC Women’s Club Championship 2021 at the Aqaba Development Corporate Stadium, Jordan on Saturday night.
Gokulam took a 1-0 lead through Elshaddai Acheampong going into the
break before goals from Manisha and Karen Stefanny Paez on either side of
Umida Zoirova’s effort for Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor netted a
comfortable win for the Indian side.
Both teams were out of title contention, with Bunyodkor’s opening day
defeat to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Shahrdari Sirjan proved costly
in the final equation while Gokulam Kerala had yet to register a point.
Bunyodkor were the first to have a look at goal in the seventh minute,
with Dildora Nozimova sending a clever ball to Nozimakhon Ergasheva,
who wasted the opportunity by firing straight at Gokulam custodian Shreya.
The Uzbekistan side looked more threatening moving forward and came
agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 18th minute when Nozimova
forced a save from Shreya, who also stopped Ergasheva’s follow-up
from point-blank range.
Despite Gokulam playing well in patches, Bunyodkor continued to toil
in front of goal with Aziza Norboeva hitting a tame effort in the 22nd
minute and Ilvina Ablyakimova seeing her header ruled offside five
The misses proved costly as Gokulam then caught Bunyodkor napping in
the 34th minute when Manisha sent a wonderful cross to Soumya
Guguloth, whose header was guided into the back of the net by
Bunyodkor tried their best to find the equaliser to stay in the game
but Shreya made sure Gokulam took a 1-0 lead going into the break.
Gokulam raced off the blocks in the second half and continued to
pressure Bunyodkor, who were limited to counter-attacks.
Disaster struck Bunyodkor when captain Luiza Sadirova received a red
card for pushing Acheampong inside the six-yard box, with Manisha
scoring the resulting penalty in the 62nd minute.
Bunyodkor responded immediately after the restart when Nozimova sent a
wonderful through ball to Umida Zoirova, who beat the Gokulam defence
before slotting home to reduce the deficit.
Gokulam, however, restored their two-goal advantage in the 68th minute
when substitute Karen Stefanny Paez scored from close range after
Acheampong’s shot was denied by the bar.