The Indian senior women's squad to face Vietnam in two International friendlies next month was announced on Wednesday.
The team set a preparatory camp in New Delhi for six days before flying off to Vietnam on October 30.
Vietnam ranked 34 in FIFA rankings is above India, ranked 57, and head coach Maymol Rocky feels it is now time the Blue Tigresses face stronger opponents to improve themselves.
"I think this is the first time that we will play against Vietnam. It's all about playing against higher-ranked teams so that we can further improve ourselves," said Rocky.
Stressing on the importance to match and better their opponents, the gaffer also stated that the focus of the team will be on the 2022 Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers next year.
"Right now, our efforts are to match them and be better than them. It's only when we play better teams that we can gauge our strengths and weaknesses," she quipped.
"Our main aim is to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup. We need to have patience and keep improving at the same time," she further said.
Skipper and centre-back Ashalata Devi who accompanied Rocky in the conference said that while Vietnam are a higher-ranked side, the hard work put in by the Indian girls will come into light on the pitch.
"Obviously Vietnam are a much higher-ranked team than us. But this doesn't mean that we can't beat them," said Ashalata. "We have been working really hard and improving, so we will be up for the fight."
Ashalata's fellow centre-back Sweety Devi feels that the responsibility will be on the two of them to organise the team from the back.
"It's not going to be easy, playing against Vietnam, and as defenders, the responsibility will be on Asha di and me to organise the team," she said. "But having someone as experienced as her at the back helps a lot, as she reads the game and instructs everyone accordingly. I think if we all fight together, keep ourselves calm, and stick to the plan, we can get good results out of Vietnam."
The team will face Vietnam on November 3 and 6.
The Indian squad of 23 is as follows:
GOALKEEPERS: Aditi Chauhan, Panthoi Chanu, M Linthoingambi Devi.
DEFENDERS: Jabamani Tudu, Ashalata Devi, Michel Castanha, Sweety Devi, Ranjana Chanu, W Linthoingambi Devi.
MIDFIELDERS: Roja Devi, Grace Lalrampari, Karthika Angamuthu, Manisha, Ratanbala Devi, Ritu Rani, Sangita Basfore, Sanju, Sumithra Kamaraj.
FORWARDS: Anju Tamang, Dangmei Grace, Daya Devi, Bala Devi, Renu
HEAD COACH: Maymol Rocky