Women's Football
Young Tigresses eager to start afresh against Thailand 
20 Sep 2023

Sruti Chakraborty
AIFF Media Team

BURIRAM, THAILAND: It wasn’t exactly an ideal start for India. For sure.

But again, playing against former champions Korea Republic had always been a challenge and Tuesday was no different as India went down to a strong Korea 0-8 in their first encounter of the AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Buriram City Stadium in Thailand. 

Indian girls, however, are aware that this is not the end of the world; some creditable performances in the next two matches could turn the table and open up the opportunity for a berth in the next round. So, they remain determined and hopeful of a better tomorrow for Thursday’s fixture against hosts Thailand. 

It was hugely relieving to find the girls with a positive mindset in the morning. They did not forget to smile and greet everyone, which is certainly a sign of hope. They are ready to start afresh, ready to take up the task. The past is a place to learn from, not to live in.

Not that the players don’t have a reality check of the situation. The India U17 team are fully aware of the challenges ahead; they are pitted against hosts Thailand, the country known as the "Land of Smiles". The nickname is not merely a reflection of their cheerful culture, it also characterises their approach to sports – maintaining a positive attitude no matter the circumstances. 

"We faced a challenging situation against Korea yesterday when we conceded our first goal, which led to some pressure on the players," said Priya PV, India’s Head Coach. 

"We were unlucky to concede two penalty kicks. Korea Republic displayed exceptional passing quality, making it essential for us to regroup defensively. The Korean team demonstrated strong support in their passing game, and we acknowledge that we need to address these weaknesses," she added. 

Priya said, "One of the major challenges we faced was the low fitness level of our players, exacerbated by the long journey and dehydration." 

The Young Tigresses are scheduled to take on Thailand on Thursday at 8.30 PM IST at the Buriram City Stadium. The match promises to be an exciting clash between two determined U17 teams, each striving to make their mark in the competition. 

Thailand have been in impressive form recently, having secured commanding victories over Northern Mariana Islands (11-0) and Malaysia (11-0) in their Group A matches in Round 1 of the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers. In their first Round 2 encounter on Tuesday, they defeated IR Iran 6-0. 

The Indian Coach is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents and said, "Thailand being a talented team, excel in a come-back defence and counter-attack strategy. While our style is focused on attacking football, we will aim to initiate our play from the midfield. It's clear that Thailand boast of speedy players.

“In our last match, we struggled with numerous mis-passes, resulting in a lack of ball possession. We know about our strengths and weaknesses and we will work on that today," she said.

The Thailand Senior Women's National Football Team, known as "Chaba Kaew," take inspiration from the Thai computer-animated film "Khan Kluay" (Jumbo in India), where a Thai elephant wanders away from his mother and becomes the war elephant for the King. The U17 Indian team, on the other hand, embodies qualities of resilience, determination, and teamwork on the field. 

India will now focus on logging full points in the next two matches and advancing in the competition. Putting past setbacks behind them, they are committed to their goal of qualification. 

"As we look ahead, our focus should be on the next two matches. We must put the past behind us and concentrate on preparing to secure victories.“Our goal remains qualification. Dwelling on past setbacks won't help us achieve that objective. It's essential that we work hard, learn from our mistakes, and stay committed to our goal," concluded Priya PV.

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