Ahead of the Hero Gold Cup in Bhubhaneshwar, Odisha, All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das stated that the tournament is “aimed to provide the Indian women’s team with the best possible preparation going into the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 Tokyo 2020.”
“The tournament is meant to provide additional opportunity to the Indian National Team to face other National Teams in a competitive format. This will warm them up ahead of the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Qualification’s Round 2,” Mr. Das said in a press conference today (February 08, 2018).
“While our team is playing overseas we feel that hosting a competition of this sort will also boost the growing popularity of girls’ football in India. But Football followers in India also deserve to get a chance to witness our national teams in action,” he added.
The Indian women crossed a significant barrier by qualifying for the second round of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers for the first time in November 2018. To prepare in an optimum manner for the challenge coming up in April 2019, the team has already kicked off a campaign involving back to back win in friendlies against Hong Kong and Indonesia.
Significantly, all the four participating teams of the Hero Gold Cup also stay in the fray for the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2.
“I need to thank the Government of Odisha for all their help. I am happy that we share the same enthusiasm and positive outlook for Women’s football with our partners, SAI and the Government of Odisha,” he explained.
Mr. Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner cum secretary of the sports and youth services department Odisha, added: “Through our collaboration with the All India Football Federation, we have already made Odisha the youth football hub by housing the Under-15 and the Under-19 team in Odisha. We are also committed to the development of Women’s Football and our support to the Gold Cup is one of many things we plan to do on that front.”
All matches of the Hero Gold Cup will be streamed online on Hotstar.