New Delhi, Feb 26: The Indian women’s national team will take on Uzbekistan in the opening match of the Turkish Women’s Cup 2019 in Alanya, Turkey, on February 27.
India is preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 in April wherein they are drawn in Group A, pitted against hosts Myanmar, Indonesia and Nepal – who will host the SAFF Women's Championship in March.
Dubbing the clash as a litmus test, head coach Maymol Rocky said, “Uzbekistan is one of the top teams of Asia and it will be a challenge to face them. They are strong on the counter and we will have to be at our 100 per cent to beat them”
“The Hero Gold Cup was a good opportunity for us to test our permutations and combinations strategically against quality opponents and we will look to do the same in the Turkish Cup with an aim to create a final iteration as we proceed to the Olympic Qualifiers.”
The Indian women had gone on an unbeaten run of five matches including wins over Hong Kong, Indonesia and Iran (in the Hero Gold Cup), but losses against Nepal and Myanmar – both coming in the Hero Gold Cup,have given room for improvement.
“We have worked on our finishing ever since the Hero Gold Cup where we faltered in front of goal. The bright spot in the Gold Cup was that we were creating chances at will and we look to continue that in the Turkish Cup.”
“We are focusing on finishing the chances we create while implementing the game plan," Maymol added.
The Indian Women had lost 7-1 to Uzbekistan in 2017 in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers. Two years down the road, Ashalata Devi, who played in 2017, believes that the result will be different altogether this time.
“We have developed and evolved into better players by leaps and bounds. We also have tested ourselves against tough opponents and there is no doubt that if we play to the best of our abilities, we can beat Uzbekistan," said Ashalata.
“It will be a tough match for us but we are prepared for them. We stunned Iran as well (in the Hero Gold Cup) and we have the capacity to defeat some of the best teams if we play to our strengths," she added.
Meanwhile, the Indian Women will also be facing Turkmenistan and Romania in the Turkish Women’s Cup 2019. UNI