*India U20 Womens Team

India starts favourite as they take on Bhutan in their opening fixture of the  SAFF U-20 Women’s  Football Championship at the Mostafa Kamal Stadium here on Friday.

Indian team is a mixture of youth and experience and head coach Maymol Rocky stressed the importance of having a mix of experienced and young players in the squad, including those that have played in the Senior National Team already.

“We have had 20 days to prepare for SAFF U-20 Championship, and are also in the process of preparing for the AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers. We began with 35 players in the camp and have shortlisted it down to 23 for this tournament,” Maymol said on the eve of the match

“We have a mixture of youth and experience in our team, players that have played at the senior level as well, so I am sure the girls will give their 100 per cent and the results will follow,” she said.

When asked about her opponents for the tournament, Maymol showed ample respect but believes that India can overcome all challenges if the girls give it their all.

“Bhutan are a good side, as are Nepal. Bangladesh have been doing brilliantly in the last few years, and they are definitely a team to watch out for,” she said. “But if we give it our best shot, we can overcome all obstacles.”

Captain Martina Thokchom opined  “Yes, we are a junior team, but we were in the same camp as the seniors, and that has really helped us get. We all stayed in the same hotel and even played a match together. It was a good learning experience, especially for the new girls in this team,” 

Bhutan U-20 Women’s Team Head Coach Karma Dema looked to play down her side’s preparation ahead of the championship, stating that participating in the event would be a learning curve for them.

“We feel happy and blessed to participate in SAFF. Our preparation has not been as long as some of the others, but we are all happy to get the opportunity to play,” said Dema. “Many of our players will be playing on the international stage for the first time, so this will be a good experience for team to play against sides like India, Bangladesh and Nepal.”

Bhutan captain Sonam Gaki Pelzom echoed her coach’s words, saying, “We came here with a mindset of giving 100 per cent. The results are of course there, but they are not as important to us as putting in the effort and trying to play well. Intention is the key for us.”


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