The rain has subsided but the chilly winds prevail. The moment you step out of the Team Hotel lobby to have a feel of outside, you wish to run back indoors the very next minute. “The biggest challenge,” head coach Priya PV, reiterates for the umpteenth time “is to acclimatize fast to the weather conditions.”
At the cosy Hotel Room some minutes later, the FIFA Rankings stare glaringly at your face. Uzbekistan sit pretty on 43 and are 9th in AFC at the moment while India are ranked exactly 10 places behind, and 11th in AFC. Even as you pull the curtains by habit you see some small flags fluttering frantically in the chilly winds far away.
Priya, nevertheless, banks on the “fruitful” Camp in Gandhinagar prior to the Championship. “It was a very fruitful one. We have settled down as a Team and the camaraderie is exceptional, I must say,” she quips at the Hotel Lobby.
Uzbekistan U-19 National Coach Vyacheslav Solokho, however, plays down the tag of being the favourites despite staying above all other participating Teams in the FIFA ladder. “It will be an intense competition. There’s not much difference between the Teams. Jordan are a very powerful side and so are India. I have huge admiration for Football in Lebanon and know they may spring a surprise,” Solokho said.
“All of our Players play in the First Division League and though we had a month-long preparation, we were together for less than a week. Prior to the Championship, we have played one Friendly match. I wish we had more exposure,” he further informs at the Official Pre-Tournament Media Interaction.
“We aim to play well and we will do our best to qualify,” he adds.
Even as the Sun never got tired of playing hide and seek from behind the clouds, the Indian girls had their first practice session in Amman in the afternoon. In an effort to prevent further damage to the pitch at the Petra Stadium, the venue for all matches wasn’t available for any Team for practice. Nevertheless, the girls did have a stroll on the ground to have a feel of the Stadium turf.
You turn to the girls for their opinion. “It’s not that cold but the wind is having a telling effect,” they quip unanimously.
“Prior to the Championship day, it was a nice feeling for all to be back on the turf,” Priya maintains. “The intensity was high and we stay ready for the kick-off.”
The kick-off on Wednesday (November 5) against Uzbekistan U-19 Women’s national team is at 16.00 IST (12.30 Local Time).
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)