Late evening when you walk down the corridor of the Team Hotel you overhear the girls discussing from behind half-closed doors – the pain of missing out against Uzbekistan still very much evident.
“We took time to settle down,” Head Coach Priya PV reflects. “We were much better in the second half and even had our chances. But it’s over and we need to look ahead,” she utters.
“The Girls are capable of playing much better brand of Football. They also stay aware of it. That’s where it hurts,” she quips.
Jordan’s Head Coach Khaled Eid sums it up perfectly. “With not much separating the Teams in the group, the Team which commits lesser mistakes and plays quality Football will qualify for the Final Phase.” You can never doubt it.
Sitting pretty with a 3-0 victory over Lebanon U-19 Women in their first match, Khaled further declares: “Our aim is to top our Group and qualify for the final phase. I feel all the Teams are evenly balanced and you cannot pick-up one as a favourite.”
“However,” he adds, “there’s immense pressure on us. We are the hosts and are expected to go through to the Final phase. Our other age-group National Teams couldn’t qualify for the Final Phases of their respective age-group AFC Tournaments. Hence, there are a lot of expectations on us and we need to shoulder it.”
Priya draws a clue. “We need to shoulder our hopes. We have to win against Jordan. It’s a do or die match for us. And for that, we need to improve our finishing,” she says in one breath.
“A defeat in the next match will ring exit bells for us. That’s a motivation and pressure at the same time.”
Post India’s defeat against Uzbekistan, Priya who had stayed back at the Petra Stadium to watch Jordan take on Lebanon feels the crowd may play a factor. “It was a very noisy crowd. They came with drums and can be the X-factor for the hosts against us. We need to stay wary of them,” she manages to smile at last.
“It’s a 4.30pm kick-off and it will be quite cold. Dusk falls early in Amman and the floodlights would be switched on prior to the kick-off itself,” she becomes serious again.
“They defend in a compact manner and the Goalkeeper complements them further,” she refers to Jordan. “They have some skillful Players. We can’t allow them to move freely,” she states.
In the morning, post Breakfast the Girls go out for a stroll. The Sky above just couldn’t have been bluer ever; the wind couldn’t have been more comfortable ever. It’s the perfect early winter morning, so pleasant.
“Football in Jordan is going through a developmental phase. We have strengthened our Grassroots and there’s huge scope for the Sport in our Country. There’s lot of potential in our squad. We need to make use of it,” Khaled pronounces.
You turn to Priya. “The potential in our Team is enormous. It’s time to implement it,” she maintains.
It’s now or never for India U-19 Girls.
The kick-off at the Petra Stadium against Jordan on Friday is at 20.00 IST.