Sat, 22 Jan 2022

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 14 (ANI): With less than a week left for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 to kick-off, India head coach Thomas Dennerby said the Blue Tigresses are "feeling good" ahead of their opening match against IR Iran on January 20.

"We aim to get into the quarterfinals which is our primary target. If we qualify to the last-eight - anything, and everything can happen. The quarterfinals are a knockout stage, and all teams will be under pressure. Looking ahead, we feel it's a realistic target that we can achieve. But let's take it step by step," the Head Coach said in press conference as per AIFF.

"We have played different teams, different levels of teams, and different playing styles. We learned in Brazil wherein we played 3 games in a span of 7 days with two days in between - a similar format to the group stage of the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022.

"It allowed us to regain 100 percent of energy, and get back to prime fitness. We have defended well most of the times, but there have been few seconds wherein there has been a lapse in our concentration, and once such a wrong step will be enough for best teams to hurt us badly," Dennerby explained.

The women's football team head coach said the match against Iran in the Asian Cup India 2022 will be "extremely tough" for the side.

"In the group stage, we play three different teams who have three different playing styles. The match against Iran will be an extremely tough opener for us. We need to be extremely sharp to thwart their counters, and to deal with their set-pieces," he predicted.

"We have tried different players in different positions. When you go into such a big tournament, there can be injuries. So you need to keep all players prepared, and that everybody stays ready," Dennerby added.

The contingent has been in preparatory camps under Dennerby since August 2021 in Jamshedpur, and have been training in Kochi since the first week of December 2021. The Indian women have, in the process, also travelled to 6 countries in 2021 which included exposure tours to Brazil, Sweden, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Bahrain and the UAE.

"We have had quite a long preparation, and it's been more than 5 months that we have been together. We have sweated in over 200 different sessions including football sessions, running sessions, games against proper teams, working on different styles, and strength and conditioning sessions. We are feeling good," Dennerby averred.

Dennerby however, didn't go deep to name any particular player whom he foresees to play a crucial role.

"For us the support staff, all 23 players are of equal importance. I hope all players are raring to go and make a mark on the field. Of course, we can only bring 11 into the starting line-up. But it also happens what the game situation is all about, and how we need to react to it. Everyone has a role to play, and needs to be ready," the Coach concluded. (ANI)

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