India will play each game of the upcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup which it is hosting as “do-or-die” match, winger Dangmei Grace said on Monday.
The Indian team has been clubbed with China, Chinese Taipei and Iran in Group A and a knock-out qualification in the 12-country tournament to be held from January 20 to February 6 in Mumbai and Pune will be a great achievement.
Moreover, five teams from the tournament will get direct slots in the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023.
Australia, which is taking part in the tournament, has qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup as co-hosts.
Besides the five direct slots, two next best teams can qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup through intercontinental play-offs.
Grace said her side’s mindset is taking one game at a time and give their best.
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) December 2, 2021
“This is the right time to give our best, so we will not regret it later. For us, each and every game we will play will be a do-or-die situation. Every game is an opportunity for us,” she said in a release from the All India Football Federation.
“In our group Iran, Chinese Taipei, and China are all tough teams, and we will approach the game one at a time.”
China is the highest-ranked team in the group at 19th, followed by Chinese Taipei (39), India (55) and Iran (70). India had beaten Chinese Taipei and Iran in recent past.
The top two teams of each of the three groups and the two best third-placed teams qualify for the quarter finals.
The Indian side boasts of a young team. Out of 27 players taking part in the ongoing camp here, 13 players are under the age of 25, something that has added a lot of energy in the team.
“There are plenty of youngsters in the squad, and they are all working really hard to make the final cut for the Asian Cup. We even have a number of really young players, who are also in the U-17s — Shilky (Devi), Astam (Oraon), Martina (Thokchom), and a few others, who have brought a lot of energy into the squad,” said Grace.
“We are always helping each other, whether in practice, or off the pitch. As seniors, we guide the juniors in whatever mistakes they might make,” said the 25-year-old.
“We also encourage and help them take up different responsibilities in various aspects.”
India play their opening group match on January 20 against Iran before taking on Chinese Taipei (January 23) and China (January 26).