India start as favourites against Bangladesh in SAFF Women C'ships semis
Unbeaten so far in the tournament, four-time defending champions India will start as overwhelming favourites against Bangladesh in the semi-finals of...
Biratnagar (Nepal): Unbeaten so far in the tournament, four-time defending champions India will start as overwhelming favourites against Bangladesh in the semi-finals of the SAFF Women's football championship here Wednesday.
Since the tournament's inception in 2010, India have never been on the losing side, clinching all the four editions of the event. In the last edition of the tournament in 2016, India had defeated Bangladesh 3-1 to clinch the crown. Maymol Rocky's side heads into the encounter on the back of victories against Maldives (6-0) and Sri Lanka (5-0) in the group stages and the coach feels that her wards are focused on the job at hands, to be played on Wednesday at the Sahid Rangashala Stadium.
"The girls are in good shape ahead of the semifinal match," she said. "On Monday, the emphasis was on recovery and we had a couple of fun activities as well. Then, we followed it up with a heavy training session and the players are focused and ready for the match," she added. The Indian team has been together since December last year and has played international fixtures in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Turkey besides the inaugural Hero Gold Cup in India, before travelling to Nepal.
As they look to inch closer towards their fifth straight SAFF crown, the coach hailed the efforts shown by the players during this period. "I highly appreciate the girls for the work they have put in. I'm sure they must be missing home and travelling for so long can take a toll. I'm happy that these youngsters are so focused," she said. "Football keeps all of us united and so does the honour of representing the country." In the last meeting between the two sides, it was India that finished on top with a 7-1 scoreline at the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers Round 1 in November 2018 in Myanmar. "The previous result is not on our minds.
This is a knockout fixture, so it will be a different ball game," said Maymol. The last two matches at the SAFF Championship have seen India seize the initiative in attack right from the word go, with the first goals coming in the first 10 minutes of the games on both occasions. The coach feels their opponents will be wary of the same and it will make the match more exciting. "I'm sure the match will be interesting and good to watch. We will play our attacking game and even if we do not get an early goal, we will get them sooner or later. Bangladesh will come out strong and the girls will respond too and go all guns blazing," Maymol said.