Senior Women's Team
Turkish Women’s Cup: Maiden Estonia clash on the Mediterranean shores
20 Feb 2024

Sruti Chakraborty
AIFF Media Team

ALANYA, TURKEY: The city of Alanya is often described as a place where timeless beauty meets modern progress. A look at the Gold City Sports Complex, the venue for the Turkish Women’s Cup 2024, would aptly reveal the truth behind the saying.

Along the sun-kissed beaches of the tourist paradise stands the sports complex on a hilltop in between the stunning Taurus Mountains and the breath-taking blue of the Mediterranean. On Tuesday afternoon, the Indian Senior Women’s Team had a rigorous training session at this venue as they prepared for their first game in the Turkish Women’s Cup against Estonia on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, at 1:30 pm IST. The match will be streamed live on the Evima Football YouTube Channel. Never before had India and Estonia met in a senior women’s international outing.

The Indian team reached the team hotel late yesterday. After landing in Antalya from Istanbul in the afternoon, the team travelled another 133 kilometers by bus to reach its destination.

India will participate in the Turkish Women’s Cup for the third time, after 2019 and 2021. Seasoned campaigner and defender Dalima Chhibber, who had been with the team before, said the present Indian team have done the necessary groundwork to showcase a stronger performance than they did before.

“This is the third time that we will be playing in the Turkish Women’s Cup. We are very familiar with the environment, the atmosphere, and the feelings that we will be playing with. We played two years ago, and the team have improved a lot since then. We have been working hard,” she said ahead of the Estonia clash.

“We might not have shown the best performances earlier that we needed, but, in this edition, we have come up with a lot of positive and new energies with young and experienced players. It’s a mixed batch and we are looking forward to taking it one game at a time,” she further added. 

The Indian Senior Women’s National Team were last seen in action in October 2023, when they played both the Asian Games and the Olympic qualifiers in the same month. After their national team duties, the players started their respective IWL campaigns.

Dalima believes that getting game time in the current IWL season has helped the team a lot in terms of fitness and experience and said, “We are also getting game time in IWL, from where the most important thing we are getting is experience. We are looking forward to bringing that experience, all the game time that we have been getting so far and putting up a good show. With all these, the result will be in our favour.”

“Tomorrow, it will be our first game, against Estonia and we had a good training session today. We are going in very confident, and we are mentally and physically well prepared. Whatever we have worked on, we wish to implement it and work on it in the game. We want to get the goals and get the three points,” the defender said. 

Captain Ashalata Devi said, “We had our first session here and we are prepared to begin our campaign. The ground, the weather, everything is perfect. Everyone is happy to be here. We have focused both on our defence and attack in the session today and we are going with a winning mentality tomorrow.”

Head coach Langam Chaoba Devi analysed the first training session today and said, “We arrived late last night, and the girls were a bit tired after the long journey. But this morning, everyone seemed energetic and refreshed. We had our training session today, and it's clear that all of them are eager to kick off their campaign here.

“The players are familiar with the atmosphere and weather conditions. Many of them have played here before, so they know what to expect from the ground. I don't believe the weather will affect our performance significantly. Fortunately, we're playing a morning match, so the weather should be warmer and sunnier, which is a bonus.

“Estonia are a tough team, both physically and technically. However, we also have our strengths. While they may appear taller and stronger, we have qualities that can make a difference. They will not take us lightly in any manner and we also won't make it easy for them, and we're prepared to give it our all,” the coach said.

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