Indian women’s soccer head coach Thomas Danaby said reaching the quarter-finals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup is a “realistic goal”. From January 20, India will host the match at three venues in Maharashtra.
“From the beginning, we’ve always said that reaching the quarter-finals is our number one goal. If we get to the quarter-finals, anything can happen because all teams will be under pressure in the knockout stages. So first step, we won’t Saying that about moving on, but there’s no question that the quarter-finals are the first and realistic goal,” Danaby said.
India will take on Iran in Navi Mumbai on January 20, and the next two matches will be against Chinese Taipei and China in Group A. The top two teams from the three groups and the two best third-place teams in the group will advance to the quarter-finals.
AFC Women’s Asian Cup: India moves base to Mumbai ahead of game
Senior international and centre-back Asharata Devi said it was her dream to play in the Asian Cup. “This is our dream [to play in the Asian Cup] When we heard that India had finally hosted it, we felt like all our players’ dreams could come true. Our goal now is to reach the quarter-finals and try to qualify for the World Cup for the first time. World Cup qualification will be historic. This Asian Cup is very important for all of us,” said the 28-year-old.
The Indian team arrived in Mumbai on Thursday after training in Kochi. The team has been training since Danaby was named last August.
“We’ve been together for over 5 months and have been in over 200 different football, power, running, competitions and trying out different styles. The team has grown a lot since we started. Hopefully we can play when we play See that,” said Danaby, who has coached the Sweden and Nigeria women’s national teams.
“In the group stage we play against three different teams with three different styles of play. The game against Iran will be an extremely difficult opener for us. We need to be very keen to stop their Counter-attack and deal with their set-pieces,” he added.
At 16, midfielder Hemam Shilky Devi is the youngest member of the team. “It helps me that I can play with so many senior players. I can share my experience with my u17 batch mates. Coming to the senior team is a good experience. We have to work harder here,” Shirky said.