The Indian under-19 women’s football team will be up against Pakistan in its opening match of the AFC Championship Qualifier in Chonburi on Wednesday.
Indian coach Alex Ambrose said his team would look to keep emotions at bay in the clash against the arch-rivals.
“It may only make us lose focus on what our real objective is. All we want from our first game is three points. There is no special treatment as such for Pakistan. I want the girls to play to our plan and execute the ideas properly on the pitch, regardless of who we are playing,” he said ahead of the match.
Although both the teams played in the SAFF U-18 championships, they did not face each other in Bhutan earlier this month.
While India topped their group and went on to clinch the bronze medal, Pakistan finished bottom of their pool, losing all their matches.
On the eve of the fixture between the two rivals, Pakistan head coach Mohammed Siddique Sheikh lauded India and said the qualifiers will give his players good exposure.
“These qualifiers are going to give our girls good exposure. I’ve seen the Indian team, and they play really good football,” said Sheikh.
“Thailand and Nepal are also quite good, so we have to bring our best cards to the table. We are playing here for the first time, so things are going to be new for us. Let’s hope for the best.”
Sheikh further went on to concede that his team are at a bit of a disadvantage due to the weather conditions in Chonburi, where sporadic rains are expected throughout the week.
“We have not been able to prepare for the conditions here as much as we would have liked. It rains quite often here, and that is not something that we are very used to,” he said.
“Rains change the game, but we will try to cope with it.”
Ambrose, on the other hand, said qualifying for the main event is definitely an aim for his side.
“I am aware that we have a good chance of making it to the next round. But we have to build on all the hard work that we have put in so far to achieve the desired results,” he said.
“It all depends on how things go on the matchday. Depending on that, we can take things forward,” he added.
Group B of the first round of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship qualifiers are set to kick-off with the India-Pakistan clash at 2.30pm IST.
The other match of the day will be Thailand-Nepal in the evening.