Pune: New-look Aspire F.C set for IWL qualifiers

Pune's Aspire F.C is all set to step foot in its debut WIFA Women's League (IWL) Qualifiers scheduled in Mumbai

Pune: New-look Aspire F.C set for IWL qualifiers
  • Players from Gokulam Kerala and Bengal bolster squad

Pune: City-based Aspire F.C is all set to step foot in its debut WIFA Women's League (IWL) Qualifiers scheduled in Mumbai.

After making a mark in the PDFA Women's League earlier this year, Aspire F.C earned the right to represent Pune at the IWL-Q for the 2022-23 season.

Having tied up with two-time IWL champions Gokulam Kerala F.C, the Pune debutants will field a strengthened team comprising of a mix of local, district and outstation players totalling 25 at Mumbai.

Aspire India Co-Founder Srikant Iyer said, "playing the IWL-Q is not only an honour to represent Pune, but also needs quality players to be fielded to match competition which is stiff."

For their Mumbai sojourn, Aspire F.C have roped in (winger-Ajoosha Shirin PM) and (Central Midfielder-Saniya VS) from their Development Partners GKFC.

Likewise, for their quota of five outstation players, Aspire F.C have acquired the services of experienced former India Under-19 players Medio Puja Karmakar and attacker Gita Das. Both hail from Bengal and carry regular experience of playing in the IWL.

Aspire F.C have also packed their squad with a host of talented district players.

"We have players from a total of 5 districts and have signed on most of them who have figured in the IWL previously," added Iyer.

Keeping in mind the idea of promoting Pune players, Aspire F.C have the vastly experienced Anjali Barke (goalkeeper), and Muriel Adam (central midfielder) lead the 13-man city representation in the squad.

Twenty-four-year-old Muriel, in fact, has been handed the arm band to lead the squad.

Among the 13 city players that figure in the squad, Aspire F.C have in their ranks upcoming 15-year-old Vaishnavi Barate, the top scorer for the team in the local league.

At Mumbai, Aspire FC will be up against 8 contenders which include six Mumbai teams:  PIFA Sports, Colaba (last year's winners); Kenkre F.C; Mumbai Knights; Lawless United, Palghar; Football School of India, Navi Mumbai; Footie First.

Kolhapur Warriors and Puneri Warriors add up to Aspire F.C's challenge at the IWL-Q.

The league will be played over August-September 2022 on a round-robin league basis. The Top-4 finishers will then face off in an all-play-all face-off to determine the winner who will go on to play in the IWL finals' scheduled later this year.

THE SQUAD 

Goalkeepers – Anjali Barke, Pratiksha Mane (both Pune) 

Defenders – Aditee Shitole, Sapna Rajpure, Harshada Kalbhor, Ambar Natt Kaur (all Pune), Dipsika Hiwale (Buldhana), Riya Bolake (Kolhapur), Soniya Deep (Gondia), Vedangi Gandle (Pune) 

Midfielders – Muriel Adam, Smidhi Khokale (both Pune), Puja Karmakar (West Bengal), Saniya VS, Ajoosha Shirin PM (both Kerala), Sakshi Jadhav (Ahmednagar), Archana Bhaladhare (Gondia), Swamini Kakade, Piyusha Narke (both Pune), Bhakti Birangaddi (Kolhapur), Nidhi Verma, Asmi Kulkarni (both Pune) 

Forwards – Gita Das (West Bengal), Aishwarya Buddhe (Gondia), Vaishnavi Barate (Pune)

Support Staff:

Head Coach - Abhishek Pardeshi

Asst Coach - Kailash Pardeshi, Nikhil Nair, Ranjeet Joshi and Vicky Pardeshi

Team Manager - Kiran Jadhav

Physiotherapist - Dr. Siddhi Dube