The India women's national football team continue their preparations for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup with an upcoming tour of Sweden.
The Blue Tigresses, who are coming off a morale-boosting 1-0 win against Chinese Taipei, will face Hammarby IF (October 20) and Djurgarden IF (October 23) - the top two tier-1 (Dammalsvenskan) teams in Sweden.
India women's national football team, currently ranked 57 in the FIFA Women's World Rankings and 11 among the Asian countries, have already played four international friendlies this year - UAE (4-1), Tunisia (0-1), Bahrain (5-0), and most-recently Chinese Taipei over the last few weeks in UAE and Bahrain.
Thomas Dennerby, the current head coach of the India women's national football team, previously coached both Hammarby and Djurgarden, and gave hindsight on the quality of the opposition his team are about to face.
“We will be playing against Hammarby and Djurgarden, both of whom play in the top tier in Sweden. I was the coach of Djurgarden when we reached the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final in 2004,” said Dennerby.
“They are still a very good team, and both matches will be challenging for us,” the Swedish coach added.
The 62-year-old, a UEFA Pro License coach who took over the reins of India women's national football team from Maymol Rocky earlier this year, stressed on the work ethic of his players, who have been training together for almost two months now, since their camp in Jamshedpur, with infrastructural and logistical help from the Government of Jharkhand.
“They want to learn, and they work very hard to do so, be it in the gym or on the field. Whatever task we set for them; they try to do their best," Dennerby said.
"On this tour also, they never rested, the results of the friendly games are not what matters as much as our preparation for the Asian Cup in February is concerned,” he added.
The head coach also implied how the coaching staff's efforts is to ensure that the players understand themselves and enjoy the pressure they are to play with.
“The most important thing is that the girls understand that they are really good footballers. This helps them improve their self-confidence," the 62-year-old Swedish coach said.
"When you play football, you cannot always play with a goal advantage, and they need to learn how to play when they are a goal down. It is a different kind of pressure, but they are all dealing with it. Our effort is always to ensure that the girls are comfortable in any kind of match situation,” he added.
Indian women's football team tour of Sweden schedule and fixtures
October 20: Hammarby IF vs India
October 23: Djurgarden IF vs India
Indian women's football team tour of Sweden squad
Goalkeepers: Aditi Chauhan, Maibam Linthoingambi Devi, Shreya Hooda.
Defenders: Dalima Chhibber, Sweety Devi, Ritu Rani, Ashalata Devi, Ranjana Chanu, Michel Castanha, Manisa Panna, Astam Oraon.
Midfielders: Sangita Basfore, Indumathi Kathiresan, Sanju, Martina Thokchom.
Forwards: Dangmei Grace, Anju Tamang,Sandhiya Ranganathan, Soumya Guguloth, Manisha Kalyan, Sumati Kumari, Pyari Xaxa, Renu
Featured photo: AIFF Media