Mumbai, Jan 19 (IANS) All India Football Federation President Praful Patel on Wednesday announced a bonus to the players if India qualify for the quarterfinals in AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Patel interacted with the Indian team and wished them luck for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022.
“We all pray that you play well, and hope that you reach the quarterfinals. We will also award a prize money if you do so. It will be a proud moment for us all,” Patel declared, much to the applause of the players. India will take on Iran in the tournament opener at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on January 20.
“I want to congratulate each and every one of you for making it to the final squad. We are all proud of you. There could not be a happier moment than us hosting the AFC Women’s Asian Cup on our home soil,” said Patel to the team via video conferencing.
India have been drawn against IR Iran (January 20), Chinese Taipei (January 23) and China PR (January 26) in Group A of the competition. The top two from each of the three groups, along with the two best second-placed teams from the groups will make it to the quarterfinals.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das, and deputy general secretary Abhishek Yadav were also present on the occasion.
“Iran are a good team, but you all have beaten them in the past, and all of you should take confidence in that. I’m sure you will give your 100 percent tomorrow. We have tried to provide to you the best of exposure and training facilities for the Women’s Asian Cup,” Patel expressed.
In fact, the Blue Tigresses had travelled to 6 countries for exposure tours in 2021 which included tours to Brazil, Sweden, Uzbekistan, Turkey, UAE and Bahrain.
“The whole nation wanted to watch you from the stands but because of the situation, they will all watch your matches on TV, and via online platforms. I will be there myself, to cheer for you.”
Meanwhile, the AIFF general secretary expressed his gratitude to the State Governments of Jharkhand and Kerala for extending their infrastructural and logistical support to help the Indian Women’s Team prepare for the Asian Cup.
“I want to thank the Governments of Jharkhand and of Kerala for helping us prepare for the Women’s Asian Cup. We hope that you maintain the high intensity on the field which you have attained in the last few months. Keep up the hard work, passion, and the honest approach,” said Das.
Head coach Thomas Dennerby thanked the AIFF management for encouraging the girls ahead of the crucial encounter, mentioning that the “girls are ready”.
“We thank all of you for those encouraging words. We feel prepared with all the sessions and matches that we have played. We will stay humble, respect our opponents, but give it our best shot in the match. I’m sure these girls will do well for India,” he said.
The Indian team also thanked the AIFF in unison for all the support, and the exposure tours which they felt have made them confident as a unit. Speaking on behalf of the team, Dalima Chibber and Aditi Chauhan mentioned: “We are extremely grateful for all the support. We won’t be playing for ourselves, but for the country as a whole and the future generation of players. Keep supporting us.”