SAFF Women's C'ship: India to focus on a game at a time

Sajid Dar, coach of defending champion India, said his team will focus on one game at a time, and that it had "every reason to be positive", ahead of the 2016 SAFF Women's Championship.

Coaches of participating teams, sans Maldives and Bangladesh, at the press conference in Siliguri.   -  Special Arrangement

India will be without Bembem Devi, termed as “arguably the best Indian footballer in recent times” by, in the upcoming SAFF Women’s Championship in Siliguri, but its coach Sajid Dar was upbeat about its chances in the tournament.

“Although she's not there with us as a player, but she is very much with the girls to share her expertise and loads of experience. Now the onus is on the girls to show their mettle ahead of the supporters,” Sajid stated at a press conference held on Sunday and attended by head coaches of all participating nations besides Maldives and Bangladesh, which are yet to arrive in Siliguri.

“Girls have come in the wake of a long camp at Hoshiarpur and we have every reason to stay positive before our first match on December 27,” Sajid added.

India, which underwent an elaborate training session on Sunday, will play its first match against Afghanistan at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri. “We're playing our first match in two days and then look forward to the next one - one match at a time,” Sajid said.

'Looking forward to turning the tables'

Nepal, which lost to India to be runner-up in the last edition of the tournament in 2014, looks to go one better this time. “Yes, the memory didn't go well with us in 2014. But, we're looking forward to turning the table now,” Kumar Thapa, Nepal’s coach, said.

Sri Lanka’s coach Jasmine admitted his players would have to adjust to the cold weather in Siliguri, an altogether different climate to their own country. “Sooner the players adapt to the climate, better for us. It's the perfect stage for us to perform and we can't afford to complain about the climate,” he said.

Kelly Lindsy, Afghanistan’s coach, said, “We have been very thankful to the organising committee for all the facilities provided to us. The atmosphere is really pleasant and we're looking forward to a gruelling tournament ahead.”

This will be Afghanistan’s last SAFF Women’s Championship, as it has joined the Central Asian Zone.

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