Turkish Women's Cup: India eyeing a strong start in the competition.
by Shubham Sharma
Alanya: India would look to return to winning ways when it takes on Uzbekistan in the opening match of the Turkish Women's Cup football tournament in Alanya, Turkey on Wednesday.
India have been clubbed along side Romania, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in Group A, while France (B), Jordan, Northern Ireland and hosts Turkey feature in Group B.
The tournament is part of the Indian team's preparation for the AFC Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 (in April) and also next month's SAFF Women's Championship.
"Uzbekistan are one of the top teams of Asia and it will be a challenge to face them. They are strong on counters and we will have to be at our 100 per cent to beat them" India's head coach, Maymol Rocky said.
"The Hero Gold Cup was a good opportunity for us to test our permutations and combinations strategically against quality opponents and we will look to do the same in the Turkish Cup with an aim of creating a final iteration as we proceed to the Olympic Qualifiers," he added.
India enjoyed an unbeaten run of five matches, including wins over Hong Kong, Indonesia and Iran, before losing against Nepal and Myanmar in the Hero Gold Cup in Bhubaneswar earlier this year.
"We have worked on our finishing ever since the Hero Gold Cup where we faltered in front of goal. The bright spot in the Gold Cup was that we were creating chances at will and we look to continue that in the Turkish Cup," Rocky said.
India had lost 1-7 to Uzbekistan in 2017 in the AFC Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers. Ashalata Devi, who played that match, is confident the result will be different altogether this time.
"We have developed and evolved into better players. We also have tested ourselves against tough opponents and there is no doubt that if we play to the best of our abilities, we can beat Uzbekistan," said Ashalata.
"It will be a tough match for us but we are prepared for them. We stunned Iran as well and we have the capacity to defeat some of the best teams if we play to our strengths," she added.
The Indian team will will also be facing Turkmenistan and Romania in the Turkish Women's Cup.