Dhaka: After a resounding victory against Bhutan in the opener, India U-20 women’s football team under their coach Maymol Rocky is ready for its next challenge and determined not to let their guard down when they meet hosts Bangladesh in an U-20 SAFF Womens Championship clash at the Mostafa Kamal Stadium, here on Sunday.
Just over a year ago in December 2021, India suffered a solitary-goal defeat against Bangladesh in the final of the SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship in Dhaka. The result still irks everyone in the Indian camp, and they would definitely be eager to settle the score this time.
Head coach Maymol is a known face in Bangladesh since she was with the U-15 Indian team when they finished as runners-up in the 2017 SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship, here.
“Bangladesh are one of the strongest opponents we are playing against here. They will also have the advantage of having the home crowd behind them since the match is in the evening. But we, too, will do our best and not let our country down,” said Maymol ahead of the crucial match.
The Indian team were involved in serious and intense preparations before landing in Dhaka. A 25-day camp with 35 girls was held in Chennai under two coaches — Thomas Dennerby and Maymol Rocky — who made the girls train hard and then meticulously picked up 23 of them for the Bangladesh trip.
“We have come prepared from India, and I am sure it will be an intense encounter against Bangladesh. These 23 players are the best and the bravest, and they will definitely put up a good show. Bangladesh frequently employs long-ball tactics. We have to be sharp in those areas and remain ready. Most of their players are really good, but we will focus on our own plans,” the coach said.
The 42-year old Maymol is not a coach who would be complacent with the win against Bhutan. Rather, she wants the girls to stay focused from the minute they step on the pitch on Sunday.
“Bangladesh is really doing well in women’s football, and we have seen them play. It’s not the time to sit back and relax. We have to give our best, and the results will follow,” she said.
Striker Apurna Narzary, who scored a brace against Bhutan, believes she and her teammates will perform much better and be strong-minded enough to counter the aggression of Bangladesh.
“The results were good yesterday, but it’s time to take it as something that happened in the past and prepare ourselves for a stronger show against Bangladesh. They have good and experienced players who are dangerous going forward in attack. We will work on our finishing in training today and give our best tomorrow,” said the 19-year-old.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh also made a winning start to their campaign, defeating Nepal 3-1 and will look to maintain the winning run when they face India. They have three new faces in the team — Aklima, Afroja Khatun and Airin Khatun, who earned their reputation after scoring plenty of goals in the Bangladesh women’s league last December.
Bangladesh coach Golam Rabbani Choton sounded positive ahead of tomorrow’s clash and said, “It’s surely going to be a tough match against India as they are always the favourites, but we won’t take anything easily and try to get scoring opportunities as soon as we enter the pitch.
“We have selected our players from the Women’s League we conducted. The squad is a mixture of old and new faces. It’s a good combination, and we look forward to the match. As most of our players have international experience, I am confident that our team will dominate the competition and play in the final,” he added.