Anju Tamang’s 48th-minute winner led India to a perfect start in the Hero Gold Cup beating IR Iran 1-0 in their opening encounter. But for coach Maymol Rocky and her players, it was just another day in office which went right as they were continued their winning spree — taking the tally to five victories (2 each against Indonesia and Hong Kong).
“We play for a win in every match, and against Iran it was no different. We knew this will be a tough match for us. We wanted to start the tournament of a positive note,” said Maymol. “This is a win for all stakeholders involved, and every Indian. We dug deep and fought our way every minute to get the win.”
India could have scored more but were unlucky as Sanju hit the woodwork in the second half, and Anju muffed almost scoring another in the dying embers.
“Everyone did their job on the pitch to the fullest. We were confident before the match. I am aware of the potential this team has, and we played to the best of our abilities, and stunned one of the best women teams in Asia.”
Goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan made a mere four saves in the entire match and was not stretched even once. “The team performed really well defensively. It was because of the 10 players playing ahead that Aditi was not called into action much. We are aiming for this kind of defensive solidity in each match,” Maymol informed.
Defender Sweety Devi said: “Our game plan was to delay their forwards and keep them on the flanks for as long as possible and we were able to do that. There were times when we were stretched at the back and had to rush in.”
Meanwhile, the duo of Sanju and Anju gave constant trouble to the Iranian defence, bedazzling and bewildering them with almost every move. “Me and Sanju had our little game plan before the match. We discussed what we will do once the ball gets on the wins,” informed goal scorer Anju Tamang.
“We are room partners as well. So we talk a lot. I believe I complement Sanju in attack, as she complements me.”
Coach Maymol further thanked the fans for their support. “It was amazing to see the fans in the stands who chanted and cheered for us. You play for these moments and I am glad we could give the fans a win to cherish.”
“We need their constant support as we play for them and represent them. They give us the energy to perform day in and day out,” she added.
The Indian Women next clash against Nepal in their second match on February 11. Nepal had lost 3-0 to Myanmar in their first match but Maymol believes they are no pushovers.
“Nepal are a very strong team. We cannot underestimate them. They are really quick on the break and have decent finishing skills. We need to be on the top of our game and aim for a win.”