THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Extremely impressed with the manner the Blue Tigresses played, Bhaichung, Bembem say in unison

Indian women's national team star Dalima Chhibber in action against IR Iran in the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
Indian women's national team star Dalima Chhibber in action against IR Iran in the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)

The performance of the Blue Tigresses in their opener of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 against IR Iran has left the two Padma Shris who were present at the stadium extremely impressed.

Blue Tiger legend, and former captain Bhaichung Bhutia felt “women’s football has come a long way.”

“I am extremely impressed by the manner the girls played. They were unfortunate not to get three points. The Iranian goalkeeper also came up with some amazing saves which further denies us,” Bhaichung smiled.

“The first match is always the most difficult one, and the manner we operated tactically pleased me like anything,” Bhaichung averred. “The Blue Tigresses were so organized, and maintained their shape all throughout. They were able to open up during the attacks, and narrow it down while defending – all of which are hallmarks of a well drilled squad,” Bhaichung commented.

“Coach Thomas Dennerby needs to be complemented. He has done an awesome job,” Bhaichung, the first Indian footballer to play 100 international matches, certified. “We came across as a well-trained team. We moved back to positions fast, and there was always someone to support the other.”

“Maybe, looking back, the experience of a Bala Devi upfront may have been handy. But injuries are part and parcel of football, and I am confident the others will fill in the void.”

Bembem Devi, who was also present at the stadium went gaga the manner the Blue Tigresses approached the match. “The face of women’s football in India has totally changed. Everything was so well coordinated on the field. The fitness levels were exceptional. I am unable to recall as to when our women’s team was such a fit unit,” Bembem smiled. “All of these promise a bright future for us. The passing accuracy stood out.”

“Iran have always been a very physical team. But our players were fearless — the strength of our players stood out,” Bembem pronounced. “Coach Dennerby has changed the total approach to the sport. The manner in which he approached the training sessions in the last 5 months is a lesson for me, and coaches like us,” Bembem, the first woman footballer to have received the Padma Shri Award expressed.

“Just concentrate and don’t listen, and think much about the last match. Keep concentrating, and working harder. These are the days a player lives for. Make the most of it. One goal will change everything, and it will come soon.”

(Nilanjan Datta / AIFF Media)