New Delhi [India], January 3 (caru news): India, under Swedish Thomas Dennerby, will enter January’s 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup aiming to reach the quarter-finals stage of the continental tournament.
The hosts India were a competitive side in the early editions of the Asian finals, notably finishing as runners-up in 1979 and 1983. But the decades since have brought little to celebrate for the Blue Tigresses. Indeed, India have featured in just five of the past 14 editions, never progressing beyond the group stage. Competing as hosts of the upcoming Women’s Asian Cup, however, provides India with the chance to rewrite a few of those statistics, although Dennerby– who took over in August– is aware of how tough his task is.
When asked about his confidence of taking India to their first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, the head coach told FIFA.com: “Let’s take it step by step. Of course, we have a dream, and that starts with us being one among the eight teams in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup. If we can reach that level, anything can happen. I can only promise everyone that we will go out with a winning mentality and put in a huge effort. And that we will fight with our lives.” The former Sweden and Nigeria boss also opened about his greatest achievement as a coach, saying: “It’s hard to rank it all. In fact, it all depends on where you are. In Sweden they always want you to win medals, while in Nigeria we won the AFCON Championship and qualified for the Women’s World Cup. I still nurture a dream, and at the moment it’s seeing India make it to the quarter-finals of this Women’s Asian Cup.” India, being the hosts of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, have been placed in Group A, where they will face off against IR Iran (January 20), Chinese Taipei (January 23), and China (January 26). With 12 teams participating in the Group Stage, eight of them will progress through to the quarterfinals, and depending on other results, could take closer steps towards qualifying for the FIFA women’s World Cup, Australia 2023.