Mumbai: Host nation India on Tuesday named its 23-member squad for the upcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup, including four youngsters from the team that finished runners-up in the U-19 SAFF Championships in Dhaka last month.
While the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has not named a captain yet, the experienced Ashalata Devi is likely to lead the side in the continental tournament, which will be held in three venues across Maharasthra from January 20 to February 6.
The players and support staff, who have already been camping in Kochi, Kerala since the team’s return from Brazil, will fly out to Mumbai on Thursday, January 13, 2021.India have been drawn against IR Iran (January 20), Chinese Taipei (January 23) and China PR (January 26) in Group A of the competition that consists of 12 teams.
With as many as 15 players under the age of 25 in the relatively young squad, Dennerby believes that it would “the youngsters and the experienced bunch can help each other out, both on and off the pitch.”“We have a good bunch of young players, and some experienced heads too. The young ones are hungry to prove themselves, so that brings in a good level of energy and healthy competition for places,” said Dennerby before adding, “But it also works the other way round — as the experienced players can guide the young ones in different things both on and off the pitch.”
The coach also maintained that the team is approaching “one game at a time.” “If you start thinking too much about permutations and combinations, that can take a toll on the way you play the game. The coaches can do all the thinking that we can, but for the players, it’s all about going out there and playing well on the day.
Football is a ‘beautiful game,’ and you need to live in the moment to play it well,” he said. India is hosting the continent’s highest competition for the first time since 1980 and at stake is a possible berth in the 2023 FIFA World Cup.
For an automatic qualification to the quadrennial showpiece in Australia and New Zealand, India, ranked 55th in the world, must be among the top five teams. The tournament organisers have released the squads of all the 12 participating nations. Monday was the last date of registration.