Indian women’s football team head coach Thomas Dennerby, on Tuesday, announced a young 23-member team for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022, which begins in India on January 20.
One big name missing from the team list is star striker Bala Devi. The Indian ace, who joined Scottish giants Rangers FC in 2020 and became the first Indian woman to sign a professional contract with a European club, has not recovered after undergoing an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery last September.
Other Indian women’s football team mainstays like Ashalata Devi, Aditi Chauhan, Dangmei Grace and Dalima Chhibber, however, have made the squad.
With as many as 15 players in the final list of 23 under the age of 25, Thomas Dennerby has named a relatively young squad. The squad includes four players - Hemam Shilky Devi, Mariyammal Balamurugan, Sumati Kumari and Naorem Priyangka Devi – from the Indian team which finished runners-up at the Under-19 SAFF Championships in Dhaka last month.
“We have a good bunch of young players, and some experienced heads too. The young ones are hungry to prove themselves, so that brings in a good level of energy and healthy competition for places,” Thomas Dennerby said.
Drawn in a tough Group A, featuring eight-time champions China, three-time winners Chinese Taipei and debutants Iran, India start their campaign on January 20 against Iran.
The tournament will be played across three venues in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune from January 20 to February 6. The team and support staff, who are currently at a camp in Kochi, will fly out to Mumbai on January 13.
This will be India’s eighth appearance in the continental showpiece and the first since 2006. India is hosting the AFC Women’s Asian Cup for a second time, the first being in 1980.
With the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 also acting as the final leg of Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2023, the Indian women will seek to finish among the top five teams in the Asian Cup to secure direct qualification for next year’s global showpiece.
Indian team for AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022
Jersey numbers in brackets
Goalkeepers: Aditi Chauhan (1), Maibam Linthoingambi Devi (23), Sowmiya Narayanasamy (19)
Defenders: Dalima Chhibber (17), Sweety Devi Ngangbam (2), Ritu Rani (21), Loitongbam Ashalata Devi (4), Manisa Panna (3), Hemam Shilky Devi (5), Sanju Yadav (8)
Midfielders: Yumnam Kamala Devi (6), Anju Tamang (9), Karthika Angamuthu (20), Nongmeithem Ratanbala Devi (7), Naorem Priyangka Devi (14), Indumathi Kathiresan (12)
Forwards: Manisha Kalyan (16), Grace Dangmei (11), Pyari Xaxa (10), Renu (15), Sumati Kumari (22), Sandhiya Ranganathan (13), Mariyammal Balamurugan (18)
Head coach: Thomas Dennerby