Manaus, Nov 22 (IANS) The India women’s football team reached Eduardo Gomes International Airport at Manaus in Brazil on Monday to take part in the four-nation tournament. India, ranked 57 in the world, will play matches against seventh-ranked Brazil on November 24 followed by World Number 37 Chile on November 28 and World Number 56 Venezuela on December 1.
“We are very excited. We’ve never dreamt about playing against a team like Brazil, but we are here. It’s simply amazing. It’s really exciting that our coaching staff and federation believe that we can play against tough teams like Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela. I’m sure this will be one of the matches that we will remember all our lives. There’s no fear, we will not hold back and be overborne by the occasion,” said goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan in a release.
It will be the first time that an Indian football team (both men and women) will play against Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela at the senior level. Prior to this, the w’men’s side have already played matches in Turkey, Uzbekistan, UAE, Bahrain, and Sweden this year as a part of the preparation for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, to be hosted in Mumbai and Pune next year. The team has been camping in Jamshedpur for the past few months, with the Jharkhand government providing logistical and infrastructural help.
The tour is a dream come true for striker Anju Tamang, who grew up idolising Brazilian player Marta, regarded as the greatest female footballer in the world. “I couldn’t believe it when the Brazil tour was announced. I had to go and confirm with our team management, and even then I could not believe it. I was really happy and excited, so I wanted a proper confirmation. I still can’t believe that I will be playing against someone like Marta. I can’t describe these feelings.”
“I’ve been a big fan of the Brazil side ever since I was a kid. Growing up in my village, everyone would support Brazil. I also used to join in and support them. And for as long as I can remember, Marta has been playing for Brazil and has been doing such a brilliant job on the pitch. Her hunger and passion for the game are things that inspired me a lot in those early years. She still continues to inspire me.”
For midfielder Manisha Kalyan, the excitement levels are high in playing against a nation of which she was an ardent supporter in childhood. “When we used to watch the FIFA World Cup, I used to follow some of the players like Neymar and Ronaldinho. I have also been a big fan of Marta over the years. I have seen her play in the World Cups and the Olympics, and she is just inspiration for everyone. I’ve been watching them and learning football, so I feel all the more excited at being in Brazil. It’s a country that lives, breathes, and eats football. So, as a footballer, it is a dream come true to be able to play here.”