U-16 girls battle ‘challenging weather’ as they gear up for Pakistan

The Indian girls started their campaign on a winning note, breezing past Hong Kong 6-1.

Incidentally, a heavy rain and snowfall are expected on Wednesday. (Representational Image)   -  Twitter @IndianFootball

The “extreme” weather conditions are proving to be a tougher challenge than its opponents, as India geared up to take on Pakistan in the AFC U-16 Women’s Qualifiers, here, Wednesday.

The Indian girls started their campaign on a winning note, breezing past Hong Kong 6-1 and as the team looked forward to the next game, coach Firmin D’Souza said, “We are ready for the test“.

Firmin guided India to the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship title in Bhutan last month. Pakistan lost to host Mongolia 0-8 in its opening encounter, before going down 0-3 against Laos.

READ: India U-16 women thumps Hong Kong 6-1

Although the Girls in Blue are leading the group at the moment, the coach said that the extreme weather condition is taking a toll on the players.

“With temperature averaging at close to two-degree centigrade and constant chilling winds hovering around, it’s a heavy challenge for the girls to come up with their best. But, we are trying our best to get accustomed to that. However, the girls have fared well so far and they’re putting in 100 per cent in every training session,” he said.

Incidentally, a heavy rain and snowfall are expected on Wednesday. Barring the inaugural edition, which was hosted by the Korea Republic in 2005, India hasn’t been able to qualify for the finals, until now.

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The legendary Bembem Devi, currently the assistant coach of the team, warned that “complacency must not creep in".

“We have kicked-off well, but that’s the most dangerous thing in football. Complacency must not creep in and we should continue our job in our next few games. Only a team will qualify and we are eyeing nothing but the top spot to seal a berth in the finals next year,” she quipped.

The Indian men’s team had registered a 3-1 win over its Pakistani counterparts in the recently-concluded SAFF Championship in Dhaka.

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“We were unable to watch it in Mongolia, but we were following the action closely on social media. A win is always something which sends a positive energy amongst all and we’ll try to replicate it tomorrow,” Bembem said.

In 2010, the Indian women’s team registered a convincing 8-0 victory over their neighbours in the SAFF Championship and Bembem Devi, the then skipper recalled the experience.

“We played against Pakistan in the SAFF Championship in 2010. At Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh), we got a decent cheering behind us. Pakistan also had some noisy supporters. They had their own plans but we stuck to ours and executed it well to churn out a positive result,” Bembem Devi said.