Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) [India], October 29 (ANI): A day after the AFC women’s Asian Cup India 2022 draw was held, the atmosphere in the Indian women’s football team in Jamshedpur remains one of utter focus.
The team has returned from a gruelling exposure tour, where they faced six tough opponents in three different countries with completely different weather conditions.
The players had all gathered together to watch the draw live on Wednesday at the team Hotel, eagerly waiting to see who they will be facing in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, that India will host next year.
“We have a collective dream, and that is to do well in the Asian Cup. We only have a few months left now, and seeing the draw live was a huge motivating factor for us all,” AIFF quoted skipper Ashalata Devi as saying.
“We had all gathered in the hall where we generally hold team meetings and have video sessions, but the only difference was that our future opponents were unfolding before our eyes. The atmosphere was absolutely buzzing inside the hall,” she added.
Eventually, India were drawn against eight-time champions China PR, two-time champions Chinese Taipei, and West Asian heavyweights IR Iran. Skipper Ashalata had even made her predictions as to which teams she wanted to face.
“Every one of us had our own predictions. I had also predicted Iran, because I have so much respect for them, and we did get them in our group right at the start,” Ashalata continued.
“I have a lot of respect for them. Not only are they a very good side, but just the determination of all the women in their team to go out there and play football against all the odds is something that still gives me goosebumps,” she added.
India have, earlier this month, played and beaten Chinese Taipei 1-0 in a friendly in Bahrain, and also beaten IR Iran in the Hero Gold Cup in Bhubaneswar in 2019 by the same margin, but midfielder Sanju Yadav is not one to dwell on past results.
“We’ve got equal respect for all teams. Yes, we have beaten Iran and Chinese Taipei, but that’s all in the past. Nobody will give an inch in the Asian Cup, and we have to fight for every little bit that we get,” Sanju said.
India’s campaign in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup gets underway against IR Iran on January 20 at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. (ANI)