The Indian women’s football team would be looking for its first victory this year when they take on United Arab Emirates in an international friendly match in Dubai on Saturday, also the first match under Thomas Dennerby.
The Blue Tigers have been winless in the five matches played so far this year, though all of them were against higher ranked European sides. They last played in an international match in April and suffered a 1-2 defeat against Belarus.
The world no 57-ranked Indians would be looking for their first win in 2021 against UAE, ranked 100th in the Fifa charts, in the friendly match to be played as a part of preparations for the AFC Asian Cup, to be held in the country in January-February. They will also Tunisia, ranked 77th, on Monday at the same venue.
Having spent a month in Jamshedpur in a national camp under Dennerby’s watch, the players are raring to go in their first international match in six months.
“We are putting a lot of effort into all the sessions. We do five technical and tactical sessions, we do running sessions, we also play friendly games against local sides. We are training hard for the Asian Cup next year,” Dennerby was quoted as saying by AIFF.
The UEFA Pro License coach brings his own philosophy into the team, and it is one where the whole squad strives to strike a balance in attack and defence.
“When it comes to defending, our team has to be organised. Every player has to know exactly what they need to do. We want the team to be compact and we are working on that,” said the Swede who took charge of the team earlier this year.
“And then we also want to this compact team to win the ball back, and when we do that, of course, sometimes we want to counter attack quickly, and sometimes we want to slow it down and play around with the ball,” he explained.
Dennerby is hopeful that a good run for India in the Asian Cup will go a long way in popularising women’s football in the country.
“The mission is to have a successful Asian Cup next year. In Sweden, women’s football is huge. In Nigeria, where I’ve also coached, football is like a religion. In India, the popularity is perhaps not as much as that. But that is also one of the exciting parts about the job for me,” he said.
“If we have a successful tournament, it could be huge for India. And if you look at the game, in terms of the physical and tactical parts, I must say that we have a lot of players that can play at a very high level.”
With PTI Inputs