AFC Asian Cup on Mind, Indian Women’s Team Presses ‘Integration’ Button

With a watch on the AFC Women’s Asian Cup subsequent yr, the India group head coach, Maymol Rocky, is eager to combine promising younger expertise with skilled heads. To start with, midfield stalwart Sangita Basfore will likely be working intently with the gifted Martina Thokchom, who has been introduced into the senior aspect from the U-17 group. In reality, Thokchom, who hails from Manipur, has began feeling the change in mind-set and is eager on giving it her finest shot when India take on Uzbekistan and Belarus on April 5 and eight, respectively. “When I first joined, I was quite nervous, but they (the seniors) welcomed me nicely and made me feel comfortable. They helped me both on and off the field, which helped me feel like a part of the team,” Thokchom mentioned forward of the pleasant in opposition to Uzbekistan.

For Thokchom, although, the transition has been robust however definitely worth the effort.

“I miss my under-17 team-mates a lot but here everyone is elder to me, so I get to learn from their experience,” says the participant from Manipur.

On the upcoming friendlies, Thokchom says, she is wanting ahead to the problem of going through a higher-ranked opponent, “Uzbekistan is a higher-ranked country (FIFA ranking 41) and we’re going to play in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup next year so these friendlies are very important. These matches are going to be very challenging for us. We can use them to prepare for big competitions next year.”

For Basfore, who captained the group within the three friendlies in Turkey not too long ago, working with children like Thokchom has been a “great experience”. “I’m feeling good because young players like Thokchom are coming into the team. It’s easy for us to develop an understanding with them. And they are technically well-equipped on the field because they’ve played so many exposure matches. The team is looking more dynamic and energetic with them.”

Basfore, although, concedes that the lockdown was robust on the gamers. “Initially we had issues because in lockdown we practiced individually. And when we came together, it was tough to understand each other, but gradually we bonded together as a team and developed a sense of unity. Then we travelled to Turkey for an exposure tour where we had the chance to play against three higher-ranked teams. This helped strengthen our unity even more. That benefited our team a lot and it should show in the match against Uzbekistan,” mentioned Basfore.

Speaking about her experiences when she was a junior and made the transition to the senior group, Basfore mentioned, “I was a junior when I entered the national team. I used to watch and follow everything that the senior players did or didn’t do, learning from them about what I needed to do on and off the field. Then, slowly, I evolved into a senior player and even got the captaincy in Turkey.”

Basfore captained India in three friendlies — in opposition to Serbia, Russia and Ukraine — earlier than midfielder Indumathi Kathiresan was given the armband for the friendlies in opposition to Uzbekistan and Belarus.

“That experience (of captaining the team in Turkey) was really good, I never expected it, but our coach gave it (captaincy) to me. She gave me the responsibility to lead the team and in Turkey, I fulfilled that role. I’ll also carry it forward in the future. It’s not always important to have the captain’s armband. I’ll try to motivate the young players and guide them. Now, Indumathi (Kathiresan) is the captain so with whatever experience I’ve gained, I look forward to working with her,” she mentioned.

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