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Friends turn foes as India clash against Nepal

Indian Women's national team match action. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
Indian Women's national team match action. Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

When the Indian Senior Women’s Team clash against Nepal in their second match of the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 at the Mandalritthri Stadium in Mandalay, Myanmar tomorrow (April 06, 2019), it will be more than two foes clashing against each other. Rather it will be two friends aiming to earn valuable three points.

Head Coach Maymol recalled an incidence of heart-warming bonding between the two teams. “A day prior to the final of the SAFF Championship in Biratnagar, Nepal, the Head Coach of the Nepal Team came over to celebrate Holi with us, and smeared gulaal on me, Ashalata Devi and others in an impromptu celebration.”

“It was really kind on his part, and we enjoyed the hospitality that Nepal provided.”

Pleasantries aside, the two teams will be blazing all guns to come out victorious. This the third time they would be playing against each other since February. In the Hero Gold Cup, Nepal had triumphed 2-1 in Bhubaneswar, while the Indian women had a revenge of sorts beating Nepal in Nepal 3-1 in the SAFF Women’s Championship final.

“Off the field we are friends. But on the field, none among us spare anything for the other,” Maymol smiled. “Sabitra Bhandari is one of their key players in attack, and we will try to neutralize her.”

“We need to take our chances. Nepal possess the ability to hurt us. That was on display in Bhubaneswar. We will try to score first,” Maymol explained.

Dalima Chhibber, who scored off a majestic free-kick in the SAFF final against Nepal maintained the two teams are very much “aware of the strengths of the other.”

“Nepal are a team which know us very well as to how we play. We know them equally well. So it will be a battle of who can convert in front of the goal.”

“I have got some good friends in the Nepalese team,” stated Anju Tamang. “But once it is match day, I will try to score as many goals as possible to help my team.”

“We share pleasantries off the field. At a personal level, we know each other pretty well. But tomorrow is more about who wants it more than the other,” said Jabamani Tudu in one breath.

“Regardless of the result, we shall still be friends after the match. But on the field we have to be professionals and fight for every inch against them.”

With only one team qualifying, and both India and Myanmar level on points, a win for India will further boost India’s chances for a qualification from the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2.

“We know what we are up against. We are also aware about the intensity of the match,” said Indumathi Kathiresan. “We have a chance to create history. But for that, we first need to cross Nepal.”

The match will kick-off at IST 2 pm.

(AIFF Media)