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AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022: India Eye Goals In Must-Win Game Against Chinese Taipei

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Hosts India will have to be more careful with their finishing when they take on struggling Chinese Taipei in a group stage match of the Women’s Asian Cup at Navi Mumbai on Sunday. India drew goalless against bottom-ranked Iran in their opening match of the tournament, while Chinese Taipei was whitewashed 4-0 by eight-time champions China. With a place in the FIFA World Cup play-offs within their grasp, India are looking to fulfill their head coach Thomas Dennerby’s “realistic goal” of reaching the quarter-finals, for which they will need to win the next game at all costs, as the home team is scheduled to play Group A heavyweights China in their final league game.

A win for India, hosting the continental showpiece for the second time after 1979, will all but send the country to the quarter-finals of the 12-nation tournament.

In addition to the top two teams, the two third-placed teams from the three groups will also qualify for the quarterfinals.

All semi-finalists from the current tournament will qualify directly for the 2023 FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Two more teams from the remaining four quarter-finals will also earn direct World Cup berths if Australia reach the semi-finals of this tournament, which is very likely.

That means even teams that lose in the quarterfinals can qualify directly for the World Cup if they win the AFC Asian Cup play-off matches on February 2 and 4. The two losing quarterfinalists will participate in the Intercontinental play-offs.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian team had the luxury of a good number of exhibition tours and international matches last year, including against former world runners-up Brazil and that kept the team in a good position against Iran, against whom he created a plethora of opportunities but failed to convert.

On Sunday, they would be desperate to score their first goal of the main tournament.

Before the match against Chinese Taipei, Dennerby said his team needed “some adjustments” to their attack.

“We have to work on our finishing and try again in the second game against Chinese Taipei and get the three points. I think we have a solid defense, we defended well every time they (Iran) counterattacked.”

“A few adjustments to our attack and we will be ready for our next opponents,” said the 62-year-old Swede.

The hosts are without star striker Bala Devi, who is recovering from surgery, but they still dominated most of the 90 minutes against Iran.

For India, the experienced Aditi Chauhan, who made her 50th international appearance, is expected to once again don the goalkeeping gloves, while captain Ashalata Devi will lead the deep defence.

Chauhan was able to keep a clean sheet in the first game and is hoping for a similar outing.

The likes of Indumathi Kathiresan and Anju Tamang will fill the midfield, while Manisha Kalyan, who scored India’s only goal against Brazil recently, can be expected to be India’s trump card.

Manisha would also be very keen to shrug off the disappointment of the last match and score the country’s first goal in this edition of the main competition.

Experienced midfielder Kamala Devi had no chance in the last outing and it remains to be seen if she stands a chance against Chinese Taipei.

Beaten by China in their opening match, Chinese Taipei are ranked 39th in the world to India’s 55th, and will have a tough task against the hosts.

As far as past results go, Chinese Taipei has a better head-to-head record, winning seven of the nine matches between the two nations.

However, the last time the two sides met, India came out a 1-0 winner in an international friendly at Hamad Town, Bahrain on 13 October 2021.

In the second game of the day, China will start as the overwhelming favorite against Iran at the Mumbai Football Arena.

India Team: Aditi Chauhan, Maibam Linthoingambi Devi, Sowmiya Narayanasamy, Dalima Chhibber, Sweety Devi Ngangbam, Ritu Rani, Loitongbam Ashalata Devi, Manisa Panna, Hemam Shilky Devi, Sanju Yadav, Yumnam Kamala Devi, Anju Tamang, Karthika Angamuthu, Nongmeithem Ratanbala Devi, Naorem Priyangka Devi, Indumathi Kathiresan, Manisha Kalyan, Grace Dangmei, Pyari Xaxa, Renu, Sumati Kumari, Sandhiya Ranganathan, Mariyammal Balamurugan.

Match live on Eurosport from 7:30 p.m. m. IST.

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