Indian Women’s League (IWL) 2019-20 champions Gokulam Kerala FC will participate in the AFC Women’s Club Championship 2020-21, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has confirmed.
The decision came after the AIFF was forced to postpone the upcoming edition of the IWL due to the monsoons and an expected third wave of COVID-19.
The 2020-21 season of the IWL was also called off due to the COVID-19 situation in the country last year.
The latest champions of the IWL - India’s premier football league for women - were supposed to make the cut for the AFC tournament but since the 2019-20 edition was the last one held, Gokulam Kerala were nominated to take up the spot.
The 2021-22 season of the IWL is still expected to be held in Bhubaneswar but the AIFF will decide on the dates later.
The AFC Women’s Club Championship 2020-21 is set to be held in November this year in Amman, Jordan. Gokulam have been grouped with league winners from Uzbekistan (FC Bunyodkur), Jordan (Amman Club) and Iran (Shahrdari Sirjan).
According to the tournament regulations, a total of 23 players can be registered. The club can register up to five foreigners, and one player should be from an Asian country.
Participation in the tournament, envisaged to become the AFC Women’s Champions League in the future, marks a big step forward for both Gokulam and Indian football.
Founded in 2017, Gokulam Kerala have been making waves in Indian football lately.
While the women’s team beat KRYPHSA FC of Manipur in the IWL 2019-20 final to get the ball rolling, the men’s team followed by winning the I-League 2020-21 title.
The Gokulam men’s team will also be in action in the 2022 edition of the AFC Cup - Asia’s second tier club competition for men’s football - courtesy their I-League success.
AFC Women’s Club Championship fixtures for Gokulam Kerala FC
November 7: Gokulam Kerala FC vs Amman Club
November 9: Gokulam Kerala FC vs Shahrdari Sirjan
November 12: Gokulam Kerala FC vs FC Bunyodkur