India’s women’s team kick off their Asian Games campaign two days after the men’s team. Sunil Chhetri’s India lost 5-1 to China after landing in Hangzhou after a bizarre week; but Ashalata Devi’s India have arrived in much better shape.
Although up against higher ranked opponents (both today and on the 24th vs Thailand), the squad managed by Thomas Dennerby will be confident of holding their own. Watch out especially for Jyoti Chouhan and Manisha Kalyan, both of whom have been tearing it up in Europe over the past season (and this). Jyothi’s story, one of battling near unbeatable odds (and winning) is one that almost every player on this squad shares.
Also watch out for the great Bala Devi, who returns to the India team after a long injury-enforced gap. Indumathi Kathiresan, India’s chief playmaker, is in the form of her life (she was MVP of three tournaments she won this season – the Kerala Premier League, the Indian Women’s League, and the National Championships) and Dennerby will be leaning on her to inject that touch of magic in midfield.
While the rankings are against India, the format is such that they can fancy an upset and further progress in the tournament: The top team from each group and the three best second placed teams will advance to the quarterfinals.
It is hard to predict, though, considering the form the teams are in. Chinese Taipei, though, have been going through a tough run of results (albeit against higher ranked teams. In fact, they’ve played Thailand over the past couple of years, losing 0-2 in January this year and winning 3-0 in February 2022. Thailand too have struggled recently, also against higher ranked opponents. Considering the lack of match time India’s women’s team have had over the past couple of years, this would make for an interesting battle.
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