Captain Ashalata Devi said the team is in full spirit to face upcoming challenges.
India will be up against Pakistan on 7 September in the SAFF Women’s Championship. The Indian women’s national team is the 11th best team in Asia and ranked 57th in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings. Meanwhile Pakistan will be playing a competitive tournament after eight years due to recurring FIFA bans. Being the defending champions, the Blue Tigresses will aim for all three points against the neighbours!
Here’s what head coach Suren Chettri and captain Ashalata Devi said ahead of the clash.
Complete focus on the tournament
With the new AIFF committee set up after the ban, India are now focusing on the sixth edition of the SAFF Women’s Championship, which will take place in Nepal. Notably, India have won all the previous five editions of the competition.
Suren Chettri said, “We are focused on the tournament as this is a very important tournament for us. Even in a small period of time, we are completely ready.”
Affect of the FIFA ban
The short suspension affected Indian football and there was uncertainty about the future of the sport in the country. Even though the ban was lifted just a few days ago, the team seem to be confident about their preparation.
The coach emphasized, ”Even after suffering from the AIFF ban, we can say that we are completely prepared. The ban has affected us a little bit. But, above all, we are in the SAFF Championship which is our topmost priority.”
Full faith in the current squad
Although some of the key players of the side like Manisha Kalyan and Jyoti Chauhan are currently in Europe, the coach didn’t seem to be under pressure. Suren Chettri is optimistic about the current players in the team. According to him, “Defending the championship is always a challenge for us, but we are well prepared to face the challenges and we are here to defend the championship.”
Captain Ashalata Devi upbeat ahead of the tournament
Despite the presence of Aditi Chauhan and Dangmei Grace, the think-tank has relied on Ashalata Devi for leading the side in the competition.
Since the nation suffered a ban last month, which was ultimately revoked a few days later, the mental aspect of the players is also important. Captain Ashalata Devi commented, “The banning incident happens and it also happens in other countries. But, our team is fully prepared and has forgotten what happened to us recently. We want to move forward. The team is now in full spirit to face the upcoming challenges and we are currently focused on the match against Pakistan.”