A shift in gear was witnessed for Indian Football in 2019 as the excitement level reached new heights. Exciting challenges were waiting ahead for both the Men’s and Women’s senior national teams.
The former team indulged in a high-intensity AFC Asian Cup scheduled in the first half of January. Eyeing on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, both teams were eager to prove their respective capability to beat higher ranked teams on an odd day.
Opting a rotational captaincy policy, India failed to carry forward the momentum in the AFC Asian Cup 2019. Apart from the 4-1 win against Thailand in the opener, the Blue Tigers didn’t find the net in the remaining matches against Bahrain and UAE. As a result, India failed to reach the knockout stages. However, positive hopes await Indian women’s senior football team. Led by Aditi Chauhan, the team will feature in the Turkish Women’s Cup scheduled to start from February 27, 2019.
Already having featured in seven international matches, including the ongoing “Hero Gold Cup” at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar and tour to Hong Kong and Indonesia wherein India played back-to-back friendlies, the exposure on Turkish soil will play the role of catalyst for the upcoming Women’s Cup. Kalinga Stadium witnessed fifth consecutive victory for India as Anju Tamang scored a match-winning goal against Iran, scorecard reading as 1-0.
Turkish Women’s Cup will witness a clash among 8 nations. The participating teams in the tournament include Jordan, Northern Ireland, France ‘B’, Romania, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan & India.
Ranked at 62 as per the latest FIFA World Ranking as on 7th December 2018; India faces the only tough encounter against Romania in its group featuring Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan among other contenders. Jordan, Northern Island & hosts Turkey which are ranked below 50 are grouped along with a lower ranked French football team. Each team will be facing the other 3 teams of its group with the group-toppers competing in the final.
Though the tasks seem to be challenging for the Indian team as on paper, Aditi Chauhan and her girls would like to bring the experience gained from their recent encounters into the picture. The All India Football Federation’s General Secretary, Kushal Das emphasized preparing a foolproof preparation for the team ahead of its round two of the Olympic qualifiers.
India’s schedule for the Turkish Women’s Cup 2019 is as follows:
February 27: India vs Uzbekistan
March 1: India vs Turkmenistan
March 3: India vs Romania
March 5: Play-off matches, including final.
The tournament will provide a competitive platform for the upcoming SAFF (South Asian Football Federation)Women’s Championship 2019, scheduled from 12-22 March to be hosted by Nepal. India won four out of four SAFF Championships, and in its run up to prepare for Olympic Qualifiers, India would love to maintain the same record.
With the Maldives and Sri Lanka in the same group, an eye to improve upon its losing streak against the former and also simultaneously better its track record against the hosts would be in the wishlist of Indian women’s football team.
Also, it will contribute largely towards the launch of Indian Women’s League (IWL) and eventually provide the necessary boost for Indian Football.