A day prior to India’s opener against Uzbekistan in the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Qualifiers, head coach Priya Parathi Valappil spoke to AIFF Media on India’s preparation, chances, scope for improvement, and much more.
How have your preparations been ahead of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship?
We headed here after a 45-day month-long Camp in Gandhinagar. The Camp was a good opportunity to have a look at the 35 Girls who reported on the opening day. However, we cut down the size to 23 who have eventually travelled with us to Amman. We are extremely thankful to All India Football Federation and also Sports Authority of India who besides lending out their premises also aided us to conduct endurance tests to have more clarity on strength and speed of each of our Players.
How do you rate your present batch of girls? What stay their strengths?
They are a determined bunch but haven’t been that much exposed to International Competitions at the U-19 level. But at the same time, most of them have earlier International exposure as they have donned National Colours in AFC Competitions at both the U-14 and U-16 level.
We are trying to balance and strengthen certain positions and take confidence from the fact that there are certain Members of the Senior Indian National Team who are also part of the present squad. The attitude of the girls has been very positive right from Day one which stays one of our strengths as well.
What are the areas you would have wanted them to improve a bit more?
Any Coach will always tell you that there are so many areas which one needs to improve upon (smiles). In any case, we need to be cautious and not concede silly goals and lose concentration during phases. There is no room for Goalkeeping errors and I feel we need to pass and control better.
India has been clubbed with Uzbekistan, Jordan and Lebanon in Group A. With not much separating Uzbekistan, India and Jordan what stay India’s realistic chances?
We are going to play with a positive mind. We need to take one match at a time. I pray that our Players stay away from injuries as the schedule is too hectic with a match every alternate day. But at the same time it stays the same for every Team. We have our chances for sure but that pertains to every other Team as well.
Which Team do you consider India’s biggest challenge and why?
I feel Jordan has an edge over all other Teams. Besides the Home advantage, the weather and their physique is an added advantage to them as well.