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SAFF U-15 Women's Championship Preview: Indian girls face Sri Lanka in opener

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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The ladies face Sri Lanka and Bhutan in Group A.

India are all set to kick-off their 2018 SAFF U-15 Women's Championship against Sri Lanka on Wednesday at Changlimithang Stadium at Thimphu, Bhutan. This will be the second annual SAFF U-15 Championship after the first one was won by Bangladesh, who defeated the Indian Women last year.

Despite that disappointing defeat, the Indian U-15 Women's team looks confident heading into the tournament and are one of the favourites to go all the way and win the coveted title.

The tournament will also feature the likes of Pakistan and Nepal, who are in a group with defending champions Bangladesh. Meanwhile, India are in a group with Sri Lanka and Bhutan and will face the hosts in a feisty encounter on 13th August.

India's coach Firmin D'Souza seems to be confident of his girls heading into the tournament and indicated that the team will do everything it takes to bring the trophy home. He said, “We will be looking to start our campaign on a positive note and will look to gather a win and three points. A win will guarantee of a strong position of getting out in the group and progressing into the semi-finals.”

He continued, “Both Sri Lanka and Bhutan will provide challenges of their own but we are ready. The girls have been gearing hard for the SAFF Championship and are raring to go." D'Souza also indicated that he had focused on improving the diet plans of the girls and during the 23-day preparatory camp held in Odisha in preparation for the tournament, he had made sure the girls religiously followed a strict diet.

The hosts also seem confident heading into the tournament and during the pre-tournament media day, head coach Sung Jea Lee spoke about their own preparations and expectations from the tournament. He said, "It's quite exciting to be part of this tournament and honestly, I really wanted to prepare for long and become better, but the Women's training conditions are still relatively poor. We've been training for this for more than a month and want to do our very best in the matches."

He added, "We are expecting difficult matches against Bangladesh and India. They are both very good teams and will pose as difficult opponents for us. We are hoping to reach the semi-finals this time out and hope the improvement in our performances is seen in this tournament."


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India's initial opponents in Sri Lanka also spoke during the Media Day prior to the kick-off of the tournament and head coach Mohamed Ajwad revealed his team expectations and how they had prepared for the tournament. He said, "We had a short period of time to prepare and could only train for about three months. But we've still done pretty well and hope to play well against some tough opponents."

"Our girls don't really have any International experience as it's the first time all our girls are playing in an international tournament. But we've played a lot of practice matches in our preparation and hopefully, we can do well." he further added

The defending champions, Bangladesh were the first team to speak with head coach Golan Rabbani Chotom spoke about how the team had prepared to defend their title. He said, "After our success in December, we have continued training and preparing for this tournament. We recently played a tournament in Hong Kong, where Hong Kong, Malaysia and Iran played. In that tournament, we played really well and the girls showed development in their game."

He added, "After that tournament, we've continued practicing in our home country. Our girls have kept on training to the limit for the past seven months and I hope we're fully prepared for this tournament. India, as you may know, have always had a reputation for being successful in Women's Football and they have a strong team. Bhutan also have a very good team and one can say that in SAFF, every team is doing well to make sure Women's Football gets the recognition it deserves."

If India do manage to win the group in which they are placed in, they will face the runners-up of the group containing Bangaldesh, Nepal and Pakistan on 16th August. If they end up as runners-up, they will face the winners from that group on the same day. The finals of the U-15 SAFF Women's Championship is to take place on 18th August, when India will aim to redeem themselves by winning the Championship which slipped out of their hands in 2017.

Taking Inspiration From Fellow Brothers, Indian Eves Ready For Saff Challenge

They say: ‘To be inspired is great, but to inspire is incredible.”

For the Indian U-15 Women’s National Team currently gearing up for the SAFF U-15 Championship in Thimpu, the inspiration has come from their fellow brothers-in-arms in Spain and Jordan -- the Indian U-20 and U-16 National Teams. 

The buzz after the Indian U-16s defeated Yemen 3-0 yesterday was latched on immediately by the girls, filling their hearts with pride and zeal ahead of their opening clash of the SAFF U-15 Championship against Sri Lanka tomorrow (August 9).

“We have been following them and we take immense pride in our brothers. At the same time, they inspire us to give our cent percent on the field when we will play,” said Avika Singh.

“Our Bhai-log have shown the world that we Indians belong to the highest stage in World football and now it is our chance to showcase the same.”

The 2-1 victory over Argentina U-20 has in fact, brought an immense sense of pride among the entire contingent along with the U-16 registering a 1-0 victory over current U-16 Asian champions Iraq.

“We could not believe it that India defeated Argentina. As Indians, we were so proud of our brothers,”Shilky Devi smiled. “It is beyond incredible what our brothers have achieved in foreign lands.”

The Indian U-15 girls have been drawn in Group A of the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship alongside hosts Bhutan and Sri Lanka. While the Indian eves face Sri Lanka on August 09, 2018, they square off against the hosts on August 13, 2018.

This will be the second edition of the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship, the earlier one held in 2017 in Dhaka where the Indian girls finished runners-up to hosts Bangladesh.

Published: Wed Aug 08, 2018 08:02 PM IST

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