Indians have a longstanding infatuation with Brazilian football. Many of the current Blue Tigers and Blue Tigresses have grown up idolising top Brazilian footballers, but to get a chance to square up against them is something special indeed; something that the India U-17 Women’s Team will have the fortune of doing, when they take on the Brazil U-17 Women’s Team at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Monday, October 17, 2022 in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Incidentally, the Senior Indian Women’s Team had the fortune of playing Brazil in an International Friendly in Manaus, Brazil just about a year ago – a night that very few of the players would forget in their lifetime.
While the rest of the country was still waking up from their slumber, the ardent supporters of the Indian Women’s Team would have rejoiced, as Manisha Kalyan equalised for the Blue Tigresses on the eighth minute, dashing on to a pin-point through ball by Indumathi Kathiresan, and following it up with a rocket of a finish into the bottom corner.
“That was such a memorable match. Perhaps the most memorable match of my career so far. I had grown up as a fan of players like Ronaldinho and Marta, and to get to play against Brazil in Brazil, and on top of that, to get an opportunity to score against them – that is the stuff of dreams,” said Manisha to www.the-aiff.com.
“I was quite nervous before that match, we all were. Playing against a team of that level is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we all wanted to prove ourselves. The atmosphere in the stadium was just intense. When you are growing up, those are the kind of matches you dream of playing.”
Indumathi Kathiresan, who was in the thick of the action in the middle of the park, is one who felt the intensity of playing such a game the most.
“Once you play a game of that pace and intensity, you really get to know how it is played at that level. You barely get any time on the ball, and within that split second, you must find your teammate and pass it to her. It’s only at half-time or after the game that you get the time to look back and think about what you’ve done on the pitch,” Indumathi laughed.
India’s match against Brazil was also a memorable one in that it was the last time that legendary midfielder Formiga took to the pitch, hanging up her boots afterwards. The entire team greeted Formiga and gave her a guard of honour, as she walked off from the cherished green plot of land as a player for one last time.
“It was quite an experience to be a small part of such a historic match, and to give such a legend of the game such a warm send-off. Even Marta was there, and though she did not play that game, she did join us afterwards. We were all star-struck,” said Indumathi.
As the U-17 Women’s Team gear up for their match against Brazil in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the two stalwarts of the senior team had some inspiring words for them.
“I would like to tell the girls to go out there and follow the plan laid out by the coach, and just try to do your best. Coach Thomas was there when we played Brazil, and he had some very useful tips for us all. So use his experience and have a good game out there,” said Indumathi.Manisha quipped, “Just go out and enjoy yourselves. These kind of opportunities come very seldom. So stick to the plan, give your 100 per cent, and leave the rest to God.”
(Soumo Ghosh / AIFF Media)
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