The last time this group of players assembled was during the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, and Thomas Dennerby, who was the then head coach of the U17 team, believed that the World Cup experience has surely left its mark on the girls.
“We respect everyone, but fear none!” these are words that are often heard escaping the vocal chords of Dennerby, who has been working with this batch of players since 2019.
“From what I’ve seen so far in training, I think they are honestly taking another step forward. That comes from the experience of the U-17 World Cup. Even if the World Cup campaign was not a success for us in terms of results, we gained considerably in terms of experience and learning by playing at the highest level,” said Dennerby, who is now in charge of the Senior Women’s Team, ahead India’s tournament opener.
“My feeling is that the girls look much more comfortable now and are not as stressed as they used to be before when they played big tournaments. It is of great help to Indian Football.”
Maymol Rocky, who is currently serving the dual role as the Head Coach of the U-20 side and the assistant coach of the senior team, has echoed Dennerby’s words. She said: “I’ll say that we respect all our opponents. After all, Bangladesh are the host, and they should be a strong side. Nepal and Bhutan must be well prepared, and we have respect for them. But on matchday, we will go all out and give our best — it doesn’t matter who the rivals are.”
“Women’s football in India has grown a lot since I was part of the national team as a player and when I became a coach. There are a lot of things happening, and it’s going to be a big step ahead for the women’s game.”
India opens their campaign against Bhutan at the Bir Sherestha Shaheed Shipahi Mostafa Kamal Stadium on Friday. Following that, they are set to play hosts Bangladesh on February 5 and Nepal on February 7.