Senior Women's Team
Blue Tigresses set to cross swords with Myanmar
08 Jul 2024

AIFF Media Team

 The Indian senior women's team touched down in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sunday night, ahead of the first of their two friendlies against the hosts on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, at the Thuwunna Stadium at 15:00 IST. The match will be streamed live on the Pyone Play YouTube Channel.

This will be India's second consecutive FIFA women's international match window facing a higher-ranked opponent. Myanmar are ranked 54th in the world, while India are 67th. The Blue Tigresses had previously faced 48th-ranked Uzbekistan in Tashkent on May 31 and June 4, losing 0-3 and drawing 0-0, respectively.

"Myanmar are a good side and we are ready to face them. It's going to be a high-intensity encounter. We don’t need to play a defensive game, we can play attacking football and my girls are perfectly capable of doing so," said head coach Langam Chaoba Devi.

India began their training camp at the AIFF National Centre of Excellence in Kolkata on June 26 with 29 players before Chaoba narrowed it down to a 23-member squad on Saturday for the Myanmar tour.

"Overall, the camp went well, though some days were difficult because of a few injuries. But we have managed to overcome them and are ready to face the challenges in Myanmar," said skipper Loitongbam Ashalata Devi.

"We learnt a lot from the last two games we played against Uzbekistan. We performed better in the second game. We played defensively in the first one and realised it wasn't the right approach. In the second game, we changed our tactics and went with a more attacking mindset," she added.

India are winless in all five of their meetings with Myanmar so far, losing four and drawing the most recent one 3-3 in the AFC Women's Olympic Qualifiers in Mandalay in 2019. Sandhiya Ranganathan, Sanju and Nongmaithem Ratanbala Devi, all of them part of the current squad as well, scored in that fixture.

Prior to that, India suffered defeats on each of the four occasions at the AFC Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers (2013), AFC Women's Olympic Qualifiers (2015, 2018) and the Gold Cup (2019).

Elaborating on their past experience of facing their tough neighbours, Ashalata said, "We've played against them before, so we have an idea about them. Myanmar are strong and physically tough. Their mobility and speed is also good."

However, it's been more than five years since India last faced Myanmar, and the captain believes these two games will mark a fresh start in this rivalry.

"Myanmar's game style has changed a lot since we last played them. In the Asian Games, we watched them play. They have brought in a lot of youngsters, who can generate more energy on the pitch. Our team has the perfect mixture of senior and young players. I believe we can perform better and the Myanmar tour could be a successful one," said the 31-year-old.

As far as their recent form is concerned, Myanmar have been out of action since the Asian Games in China last September. They were knocked out of the group stage after losing to Korea Republic (0-3) and Philippines (0-3), and their only win came against Hong Kong (1-0). Before that, Myanmar finished runners-up to Vietnam in the Southeast Asian Games.

"We closely observed Myanmar's style of play when they faced Korea Republic and Philippines. Physically they are similar to us, with little difference in height and strength. However, they are technically very sound. But again, as I've said, we can surely match them," said Chaoba.

"Competing against better and higher-ranked opponents is always an advantage. It leaves us with the opportunity to learn more and change strategies according to different situations as we did against Uzbekistan. I'm sure we'll learn a lot from the Myanmar games too," Ashalata concluded.

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