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India fully geared for Uzbekistan challenge: Football coach

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New Delhi April 4 (IANS) Ahead of their international friendly against Uzbekistan on Monday, the Indian women’s national team chief coach, Maymol Rocky, said that travelling to the Central Asian country well in advance had acclimatised them well and they were fully geared for the contest. After their clash against hosts Uzbekistan, India will play another friendly, against Belarus, on April 8.

“I’m thankful that we were able to come here early and train in Uzbekistan. The weather here is extremely cold. There’s a big difference from the one we experienced while training in Goa. But the girls are going all out for it,” Maymol.

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India had faced a tough challenge when they played Uzbekistan in 2019, but the coach believes that things are different now. “We have played Uzbekistan before. I’m sure their team has changed since then. Our team certainly has. I’m sure it won’t be an easy match for either (one of us). Looking forward to it,” added Maymol.

The head coach also felt that playing such quality opponents would help the squad in the long run, and possibly get the team ready for the rigours of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022. “Playing more matches will definitely help the team grow together. I think the girls will need more and more matches,” said Maymol, adding, “Staying together, playing more matches will help us play better games in 2022.”

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Another strategy to groom a better, more competitive team has been to name two different captains on overseas tours this year — while Sangita Basfore was guiding the team during the tour of Turkey earlier this year when India played Serbia, Russia and Ukraine, midfielder Indumathi Kathiresan is the captain for the current series.

The coach believes that handing responsibility to different players will help them grow as leaders. “In my opinion, everybody on the field should be a captain and a leader. I’ve been trying to build the team for AFC 2022,” she said. “We need to have everyone taking the charge and responsibility for that. The team is quite young, so everybody gets the chance to take the responsibility.”

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–IANS

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