India Women Begin SAFF U19 vs. Bhutan

Along with the players, head coach Sukla Dutta also dreams about lifting the trophy for the country this year….reports Asian Lite News

As the golden hour touched in Dhaka, the young U19 girls wrapped up their very first training session, they eagerly anticipate their showdown with Bhutan in the SAFF U19 Women’s Championship here on Friday.

Emotions and excitement will run high as the stage is set, and the players are fuelled by a shared belief in their dreams. Along with the players, head coach Sukla Dutta also dreams about lifting the trophy for the country this year.

“Winning the SAFF is my top priority now, coupled with delivering commendable performances. The tournament provides us with the extra motivation needed for our upcoming challenges and aids in our preparation,” Coach Sukla said as quoted by AIFF website.

Reflecting on the team’s initial training, Sukla remarked: “The first session went well, we familiarised ourselves with the ground. The artificial grass here is different from Goa. I wanted the girls to connect with the ball. The emphasis was placed on touch, passing, and measuring ball speed. Receiving the ball was also crucial.”

In the last edition of the SAFF U19 Championship in 2021, India played five matches, including the final against Bangladesh, where they lost to the hosts by a solitary goal. They had won three matches played against Sri Lanka (5-0), Bhutan (3-0), and Nepal (1-0) and lost to Bangladesh (0-1) in the group stage.

Sukla highlights the lessons from history but urges the team to forget the past. “In my knowledge, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan have learned football from India, making it imperative for us not to concede. This is a new tournament, a new challenge, and we must forget the past.

“All the teams are strong and play good football, but my aim is to secure victory and get the trophy back to my country,” she said.

When asked about the strengths the team holds, the coach said: “Unity and effective communication among players is evident, with a strong defence and midfield. I believe they will give their best tomorrow. I have worked a lot on ball possession, and I think if they can hold and play, nobody can stop them from winning.’

Adapting to game situations, Sukla mentions potential line-up changes and says, “I will change the line-up if I feel so, particularly in the attacking and right-wing midfield positions, based on the game situation.”

Nitu Linda, who has been named the skipper for the tournament, remained hopeful of a good show. “We prepared well for nearly a month. Now it’s time to perform tomorrow. The coaches have left the right instructions for us and we are ready to give our hundred percent on the pitch. All the teams have good knowledge, but the match against Bhutan tomorrow is very important because it will be our first match. We will be there to enjoy the game and win,” she said.

Nitu said she felt proud to be named the captain. “I am really happy that the coach has shown the trust in me to lead the team. I will not let her or the team down,” she said.

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