Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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Seeing Iran Women Play Football Against All Odds Still Gives Me Goosebumps: India Captain Loitongbam Ashalata Devi

India play Iran on January 20 in their first group match of AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022. They face Chinese Taipei on January 23 and China on January 26.

Seeing Iran Women Play Football Against All Odds Still Gives Me Goosebumps: India Captain Loitongbam Ashalata Devi
Loitongbam Ashalata Devi will India in the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup. Courtesy: Twitter (@IndianFootball)

The Indian women's football team is not unduly perturbed after it was drawn with China, Chinese Taipei and Iran in next year's AFC Asian Cup at home as it has beaten two sides in the group recently. (More Football News)

India is the third-ranked side in the four-team Group A at 57th spot in FIFA chart after the draws were held in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. China is the highest ranked team at 17th while Chinese Taipei (40th) and Iran (72nd) are the other sides.

But India has beaten Chinese Taipei 1-0 in an international friendly match in Bahrain earlier this month. The team has also beaten Iran by the same margin during the Hero Gold Cup in Bhubaneswar in 2019.

"Every one of us had our own predictions (while watching the draw live). I had also predicted Iran, because I have so much respect for them, and we did get them in our group right at the start," team captain Loitongbam Ashalata Devi said.

"Not only are they (Iran) a very good side, but just the determination of all the women in their team to go out there and play football against all the odds is something that still gives me goosebumps."

The women's Asian showpiece will be held from January 20 to February 6 in two venues in Mumbai and one in Pune.

India play Iran on January 20 at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai in their first group match. They face Chinese Taipei (DY Patil Stadium) on January 23 and China (Mumbai Football Arena) on January 26.

"We have a collective dream, and that is to do well in the Asian Cup. We only have a few months left now, and seeing the draw live was a huge motivating factor for us all," Ashalata added. 

Midfielder Sanju Yadav said despite the recent wins against Chinese Taipei and Iran, her team will have to start from the scratch during the Asian showpiece.

"We’ve got equal respect for all teams. Yes, we have beaten Iran and Chinese Taipei, but that's all in the past. Nobody will give an inch in the Asian Cup, and we have to fight for every little bit that we get," Sanju said.

Winger Dangmei Grace quipped, "We were all excited about the draw, and now is the time to focus on the job ahead."

Some of the national team players have joined Gokulam Kerala FC in their preparation for the pilot edition of the AFC Women’s Club Championship in Jordan next month.

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