AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022: The AFC Women’s Asian Cup will kickstart in a few days in Maharashtra, India. The tournament will see twelve teams from Asia spread across three groups fight it amongst each other. This is the first time India is hosting the tournament since 1980. The Blue Tigresses finished as runners-up back then, so Thomas Dennerby’s team will look to replicate that record at the continental extravaganza. Follow all AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 only on InsideSport.IN
India are clubbed in Group A along with strong teams former winners China, Chinese Taipei and Debutants Iran. Therefore they will look to reach the quarterfinals first and then look to carry it forward from there. Dennerby is well aware of the fact that reaching the knockouts will be their primary aim. Four teams qualified for the semifinals will get to feature in next year’s FIFA World Cup. So it is surely a great opportunity for the Blue Tigresses to go out there and prove their mettle against the biggest teams in Asia.
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Therefore here are five Indian stars who you should watch out for in the tournament.
One of the most experienced players in this Indian Women’s team, a lot lies on Aditi Chauhan’s shoulders in this tournament. She has been a dependable player for the last few years and will look to continue that form in the quadrennial tournament. Chauhan’s recent form has been a point of question but she will hope that she lives up to the expectation.
The 29-year-old goalkeeper is the only Indian women’s player to play competitive football in England. She had a three-year stint with West Ham United Women’s team. She recently won the Indian Women’s League title with Gokulam Kerala and represented India at the Women’s AFC Cup. A lot will depend on Chauhan when India takes the field for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
Also Read: AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022: Schedule, Timing, Squads, prize money, live streaming- all you need to know
Known for her blistering pace, Dangmei Grace will be looking to own the flanks for the Blue Tigresses. Grace started her Indian Women’s League career with KRYSHA but later won the IWL title with Sethu FC. In 47 appearances for India, Grace has scored 16 goals and will be a very vital cog in Thomas Dennerby’s system.
The 25-year-old winger will look to combine with her other fellow forwards and create goalscoring opportunities. grace needs to put her best foot forward for India as a lot will depend on her. Her combination with Manisha Kalyan and Indumathi Kathiresan will be crucial for the Women in Blue.
Loitongbam Ashalata Devi
Ashalata Devi has been selected as the captain to lead the Blue Tigresses at the continental extravaganza. She has been one of the most consistent players for the national team in the last few years. Ashalata was nominated for the AFC Women’s Player of the Year in 2019, giving enough idea of her talent.
Ashalata Devi has represented India 64 times and a lot will depend on her at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. She will lead the team and will also lead the defence. Therefore she needs to be at her best for India to achieve big things at the tournament.
Also Read: AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022: Primary target is to reach the quarterfinals, says India’s head coach Thomas Dennerby
Dalima Chiibber is the most versatile player to represent the Blue Tigresses. Chhibber is predominantly a right-back but she can also play in various midfield positions. Chhibber has represented India at various age-group levels and ever since her debut against the Maldives in 2016 she became a mainstay for the Indian team.
She recently joined Gokulam Kerala and has featured at the Women’s AFC Cup. But before that, she featured for Canadian University outfit Manitoba Bisons. She had a two-year stint in Canada before she returned to her homeland. Apart from the energy that she brings as a right-back, Chhibber is also known for her exceptional setpiece skills. In 2019 she won the Most Valuable Player award at the 2019 SAFF Championships leading India to victory.
Last but not the least, India’s new sensation, Manisha Kalyan will definitely be a prospect to watch out for in this tournament. Recently she created history by scoring a goal against Brazil. She was India’s best performer at the Four Nation Tournament and will look to carry on that form to the continental tournament.
Manisha has recently featured at the Women’s AFC Cup with Gokulam Kerala and will look to carry forward that experience to this tournament. She is extremely strong, has pace to burn and has that eye for goals. In Bala Devi’s absence, Manisha Kalyan will hope to fill in that void for Thomas Dennerby’s team.
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