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Indian Women's Football

We must keep playing matches in international windows to improve ourselves, says India skipper Ashalata Devi

Published at :May 20, 2024 at 9:59 PM
Modified at :May 20, 2024 at 9:59 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF)

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Ashalata Devi also shared her views on the Uzbekistan side they are going to face.

The Indian Women’s Team probables are currently in camp in Hyderabad, preparing for their two international friendlies against Uzbekistan.

India are set to play two international friendlies against Uzbekistan on May 31 and June 4, respectively. The Blue Tigresses faced Uzbekistan twice last year; they lost both their matches narrowly, 2-3 and 0-3, respectively.

Women’s football in India has changed from the 2023-24 season, with the Indian Women’s League being held on a home-and-away basis for the first time, spread over four months.

India captain Loitongbam Ashalata Devi feels that this has exponentially helped the players on the eve of the May-June international window for women.

“We have so many junior players this time that there’s a certain energy in the camp. We have all been playing for five-six months, starting with the IWL, followed by the Senior Women’s NFC,” Ashalata told the AIFF Media. “One can clearly see that the players are all in the right fitness zone, which is always helpful before international matches. It means we can concentrate more on technical and tactical training before the matches.”

Midfielder Karthika Angamuthu also expressed the excitement of beginning a national camp when all the players are already in top shape.

“After the IWL we had a week’s rest before the Nationals (Senior Women’s NFC for Rajmata Jijabai Trophy). I think everyone’s had just the right balance of practice and rest for the last five months, so all the players look fit and fresh,” said Karthika.

Speaking about their opponents Uzbekistan, Ashalata said, “Uzbekistan are a strong team though we have played quite a few matches against them in recent years. They seem to have changed the way they operate, however, since their Japanese coach (Midori Honda) took over.”

“They used to play a lot of direct football before, with a lot of long, aerial balls to break down the opponents. They have now adopted a more technical game, where they like to keep the ball on the ground and play it between each other,” she said. “We did reasonably well against them last year, but we have to be prepared to play our best game in these two matches.”

The team, on their first day of training, on May 17, were visited by former India captains Shabbir Ali and Victor Amalraj. Blue Tigresses’ forward Anju Tamang revelled at the opportunity to meet two such legends of Indian football.

“The training sessions have been great thus far, and we were all glad to have been visited by Shabbir sir and Victor sir before our first training session,” said Tamang. “I’ve never had the opportunity to meet them before, though I’ve read a lot about them online. They are living legends for us, and we got a lot of motivation from them.

“They encouraged us to train hard and focus on getting the results in the two matches,” she said.

The Blue Tigresses are coming on the back of their best-ever finish in the Turkish Women’s Cup, where they ended as runners-ups in a tournament featuring teams like Estonia (4-3), Hong Kong (2-0), and Kosovo (0-1).

Ashalata said, “Our team is progressing a lot. We saw the results in the Turkish Women’s Cup, and our team did very well to handle quality teams that regularly play in Europe. We must keep playing such matches in the international windows to improve ourselves. You learn to handle lots of things when you play such teams right from tactics, formations and decision-making.

“Yes, we lost against Kosovo in our last match, but the fact that we managed to hold such a strong team till injury time speaks a lot. It’s the small things that make the difference against such teams, and our girls are also learning them,” said Ashalata.

Indian senior women’s team friendly fixtures in Tashkent:

May 31: Uzbekistan vs India

June 4: Uzbekistan vs India

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