India Women’s team for the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers announced
All India Football Federation(AIFF) have announced a 23 member squad for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers. The upcoming Women’s Asian Cup will be hosted by Jordan in 2018 from 7th to 22nd April.
India is drawn into Group B alongside continental heavyweights like DPR Korea, Korea Republic, Uzbekistan and Hong Kong in a very tough group in the qualifiers. All the matches of Group B will take place at DPR Korea. India’s first match in the qualifiers will be against the homeside on 3rd April.
India’s matches in the qualifiers are as follows::
● 3rd April: V DPR Korea
● 5th April: V Korea Republic
● 7th April: V Uzbekistan
● 11th April: V Hong Kong
The coach of the India Women’s team, Sajid Yousuf Dar said,”Our main objective from this campaign is to ensure our competitiveness. We have been drawn in a very tough group and we look to give every team we face a fight.”
Dar is no stranger to the Indian footballing circuit. The Kashmiri used to be a stopper in his playing days and at his glory days was considered to be one of the best defenders in North India. He played in the Federation Cup for YMCA and was also a prominent member of the Santosh Trophy team of Jammu & Kashmir in the early part of this millennium.
Dar was appointed the Assistant coach of the India U-19 team in 2012 and remained there untill 2014. Then he had a brief stint with AIFF Elite Academy, ultimately ending up taking charge of the Women’s National team in 2015. His tenure has also seen silverware when the lady blue brigade won gold medal in the South Asian Games in 2016 beating neighbours Nepal 4-0 in the final, which unfortunately but expectedly attracted no media attention.
Dar has in his coaching staff Maymol Rocky as his assistant and Ronibala Chanu as the goalkeeping coach.
The 23 member squad looks like this:
● GOALKEEPERS: Panthoi Chanu, Vijaya Kumar Vinitha, Roshini Devi.
● DEFENDERS: Ashalata Devi, Radharani Devi, Manisa Panna, Umapati Devi, Sweety Devi, Dalima Chibber, Poonam Sharma.
● MIDFIELDERS: Premi Devi, Indumathi, Sangita Basfore, Ngoubi Devi, Lochana Munda, Ratanbala Devi, Michel Castanha, Sasmita Malik.
● FORWARDS: Bala Devi (C), Sanju, Anju Tamang, Kshmina, Dangmei Grace.
Indian Women’s team is currently ranked 56th in the FIFA Rankings with a fall of 2 places in the newly published rankings mainly owing to lack of enough friendlies.
India’s story in the Asian Cup has been a mixed bag over the years. The ‘Blue tigresses’ have participated in the tournament a total of 9 times the first of which came back in 1979 where they finished Runners-up. In 1983 the ladies again reached the finals but the silverware remained alluring. The latter years have been a story of group stage finishes or inability to even qualify for the main tournament.
The group is quite tough and even a very big optimist may not bet for the Indian team this year but miracles do happen in football. The coach’s voice sounds optimistic,”We believe on the spirit of unity and togetherness to achieve our target. We will give our all on the pitch.”