In their quest to prepare for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 qualifiers, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has arranged for two friendly matches of the Indian Senior Women’s National Team against Uzbekistan. The Indian women who scripted a third-place finish in the recently concluded COTIF Cup 2019 will play at the Yakkasary Stadium, Tashkent on August 29 and September 2.
It was only last month that the Indian Senior Women’s National Team moved up six spots in the FIFA Women’s World Ranking to 57th place, courtesy a 66.7% winning record in their last 18 matches. Since then, the women have notched up a third-place finish in the COTIF Cup 2019 where they won against Bolivia, and Mauritania, while going down to Spain U-19, and Villarreral CF.
As the 29-member squad started training at the preparatory camp in New Delhi for the forthcoming series, Head Coach Maymol Rocky insisted “the exposure for the team has been unprecedented, and valuable.”
“Playing against so many international opponents does wonders. The players have more self-belief at the moment as they have now adept in playing against a variety of oppositions. It has improved the players, both on, and off the pitch,” Maymol added.
At the start of the year, the Indian eves played two away friendlies apiece against Hong Kong and Indonesia, which were followed by the inaugural Hero Gold Cup that took place in Bhubaneswar, where they took on Myanmar, Nepal and Iran. After that, they competed against Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Romania and Kazakhstan in the Turkish Women’s Cup.
On the back of the generated momentum, they travelled to Nepal in March and successfully defended the SAFF Women’s Championship title, defeating the hosts 3-1 in the final. They came inches closer to making it to the third round of the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers, defeating Indonesia and Nepal before playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw against hosts Myanmar as they bowed out on goal difference.
That was followed by the Hero Indian Women’s League (IWL) in May in which 12 teams took part.
Maymol stated the scheduling has helped the National Team girls “gel” into a cohesive unit. “I need to thank AIFF and Sports Ministry for their continuous support towards women’s football. The scheduling has allowed the players in the senior team to remain in top shape and gel together as a unit,” she continued.
“Thanks to the IWL, the players got a great platform to showcase their game. We were able to identify a number of talents who have been now given chances in the national team fold.”
The Head coach also billed the forthcoming double-header in Uzbekistan as a “good opportunity” to see where the team stands. “With the qualifiers for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 coming up, the matches against Uzbekistan will be an important step in our preparation.”
Maymol has summoned a list of 29 players for the ongoing camp in New Delhi. “After the COTIF Cup, the girls are raring to go. They look fresh. There are a few new players who have been called up. So we’re looking forward to getting them to see how they perform,” Maymol stated.
India WNT Squad
M. Linthoigambi Devi, Aditi Chauhan, Sowmiya Narayanasamy, Archana A, E. Panthoi Chanu
Ashalata Devi, Sweety Devi, Jabamani Tudu, Michel M. Castanha, Y. Papki Devi, Shruti Keramal, Samiksha, A. Komal Kumari
Sangita Basfore, Sanju Yadav, Indumathi Kathiresan, Ranjana Chanu, Manisha, Ritu Rani, Ratanbala Devi, Grace H. Lalrampari
Anju Tamang, Bala Devi, Dangmei Grace, Anushka Samuel, Renu, Daya Devi, Roja Devi, Sandhiya Ranganathan
Maymol Rocky (Head Coach)