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Turkish Women’s Cup: India angling to hook Hong Kong in sea town Alanya

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The ongoing Turkish Women’s Cup has, so far, proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Indian Senior Women’s National team. The Chaoba Devi-coached side showed commendable proficiency in both speed and ball control to log full points in the opening match against European side Estonia.

But then, the 4-3 victory against Estonia is a thing of the past. A new challenge awaits the Blue Tigresses on Saturday, February 24, 2024, as they face the 79th-ranked Hong Kong in the second match of the four-team round-robin tournament.

Having clashed four times before this, India has won all the previous encounters, netting a total of 11 goals, while Hong Kong managed to score only two.

In their most recent encounter, a friendly match back in 2019, India secured a narrow victory with a solitary goal courtesy of Pyari Xaxa, who also found the net in India’s recent match against Estonia here in Turkey.

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India currently leads the points table with three points and a goal difference of +1, while Hong Kong is at the bottom of the points table with zero points and a goal difference of -1 after losing 0-1 to Kosovo.

When asked about the opponents for tomorrow, Chaoba Devi said, “We played against Hong Kong a while ago, but they have shown significant improvement since then. We watched their recent match against Kosovo, where they put up a good fight despite losing by only one goal.

“So, we can’t underestimate them. We need to focus on our finishing, as we could have scored more goals in our first match against Estonia if our finishing was better. Today, we will do some finishing drills in our training to prepare for the Hong Kong match and ensure the girls are ready to perform well. It’s our time to win this tournament this year.”

Talking about the 2019 friendly tie, Pyari said, “I was a junior player back then. I came off the bench in the second half, and playing with experienced senior players on an international tour was a big thing for me. Despite facing tough opponents, I assisted my team and scored a goal.

India’s Chaoba Devi.
| Photo Credit:
AIFF Media

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India’s Chaoba Devi.
| Photo Credit:
AIFF Media

“We played as a unit against Estonia and had a never-give-up attitude. If we continue this way, we can win against Hong Kong as well. We just need to press hard and believe in our ball control,” she said.

Midfielder Anju Tamang is determined to play as one unit against Hong Kong. She said, “After the Olympic Qualifiers Round 2, we are together and playing as a team. Winning against Estonia was an ample testimony of our cohesiveness. We need to keep ourselves motivated and play as a team, whatever happens. We will not take Hong Kong as an easy team and try to push our limits and win tomorrow also.”

Analysing some of the performances in the last match, Chaoba Devi mentioned,” Our team’s combination is really coming together nicely, and I feel fortunate to have some experienced players supporting me. Ashalata, our captain, plays a crucial role in defence and midfield. In midfield, Indumathi takes charge and controls the game.

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“In our first match, we witnessed Indumathi’s leadership on the field, guiding and motivating her teammates. When it comes to scoring, I knew she would do it. She consistently performs well in those situations, showcasing excellent footwork and skills.”

The head coach spoke about her experience in the match against Estonia. “At the start, we felt they were very strong, and their physical strength was quite alarming. They seemed too big for us. Despite being considered small, I knew our team had great speed.

“I believe they underestimated us, and we used that to our advantage and proved them wrong.

“In the first half, we tried to press their defenders a bit because they were pushing our players up and pressing high. I told my team in both halves that they were pressing very high, creating a big gap between their goalkeeper and defenders. We needed to break that gap. Some of the girls understood quickly, and in the second half, we executed the plan by switching the game from left to right and vice versa. The girls did a great job,” Chaoba added.

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