The Indian women’s football team has landed in Saudi Arabia as they enter the final leg of their preparations ahead of the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers Round 2, scheduled to take place in Uzbekistan later this month.
Over the past couple of months, the Indian senior women’s team has been engaged in rigorous training. They spent more than six weeks in Bhubaneswar, followed by their participation in the Asian Games, marking their return to the tournament after a nine-year hiatus.
At the Asian Games, India faced Chinese Taipei and Thailand but couldn’t secure victories, with a 1-2 loss to Chinese Taipei and a narrow 0-1 defeat against Thailand. Thomas Dennerby, the team’s head coach, had mixed feelings about their performance at the continental event.
In a statement to the-aiff.com from Abha, Saudi Arabia, Dennerby said, “In one way, I was very happy with the team because I think our performances were definitely up to the mark. We played against two higher-ranked teams. We gave them a big fight, and that was good. But when you play a tournament like the Asian Games, you cannot only be happy playing well because that is not what counts.”
Dennerby emphasized that points matter in tournaments like the Asian Games, and while the team performed well, they couldn’t secure the desired results.
The upcoming Olympic Qualifiers present a tougher challenge for the Indian team. They are placed in Group C, alongside Japan, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan. Japan, known for its strong women’s football team, is their first opponent on October 26. Dennerby acknowledges the strength of the Japanese team but remains determined to give it their best.
The top team from each group and the best runner-up across the three groups will progress to the next stage of the Paris 2024 qualification process. Dennerby believes that India, though the lowest-ranked team in the group, can realistically aim for the runner-up spot and continue their pursuit of Olympic qualification.
India will face Vietnam on October 29 and Uzbekistan on November 1 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The team is familiar with the hosts, having played a friendly against them earlier this year, which Uzbekistan won 3-2.
With preparations in full swing, the Indian women’s football team is determined to make their mark in the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers and move one step closer to achieving their Olympic dreams.
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