European exposure for Asian Cup-bound Indian women’s football team

Friendly matches versus Russia, Serbia and Ukraine planned in Turkey

By Naveen Peter

A new-look Indian women’s football team will travel to Turkey for its first exposure tour post the COVID-19 break. This will start India's preparations for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

Ranked 53 in the world, the Indian women’s football team will face higher-ranked Russia (23), Ukraine (24) and Serbia (40) in international friendlies in their week-long trip. All three matches will be played in Alanya, Turkey.

The Indian head coach Maymol Rocky has chosen a young side as regulars like Bala Devi, Aditi Chauhan and Dalima Chhibber are unavailable for selection due to various reasons. The team, led by Ashalata Devi, has been camping in Goa since December.

Returning to the squad is Tamil Nadu’s Indumathi Kathiresan, who last featured for the national team at the 2019 SAFF Women's Championship.

The 20-member squad also includes Sumati Kumari and Kritina Devi, who were a part of the Indian set up for the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which has now been postponed to 2022.

“We have a very young and talented squad at our disposal,” Rocky Maymol told AIFF. “This will be a good experience for the girls as we prepare for challenges ahead. The matches in Turkey will give us a good barometer on where our players stand in terms of being match-fit.

“This may be our first tournament in a long time. The girls are eager to prove themselves. We will be playing against European teams. It will not be easy, playing against them. But we are ready for the challenge.

“Playing against strong European teams will help us prepare for the Asian Cup. These experiences will be vital for the girls in these two years,” she stressed.

FIFA International Friendlies schedule and match times for Indian women’s football team

All times are Indian Standard Time (IST)

February 17: India vs Serbia - 5:30 PM IST

February 20: India vs Russia - 4:00 PM IST

February 23: India vs Ukraine - 5:30 PM IST

Indian women’s football team squad for FIFA International Friendlies

Goalkeepers: Maibam Linthoingambi Devi, Sowmiya Narayanasamy

Defenders: Loitongbam Ashalata Devi, Ngangbam Sweety Devi, Ritu Rani, Sorokhaibam Ranjana Chanu, Wangkhem Linthoingambi Devi, Kritina Devi Thounaojam

Midfielders: Manisha, Sangita Basfore, Sumithra Kamaraj, Pyari Xaxa.

Forwards: Anju Tamang, Indumathi Kathiresan, Soumya Guguloth, Dangmei Grace, Karishma Purushottam Shirvoikar, Sandhiya Ranganathan, Heigrujjam Daya Devi, Sumati Kumari