“We aim to get into the quarterfinals, which is our primary target. If we qualify to the last-eight anything and everything can happen. The quarterfinals are a knockout stage, and all teams will be under pressure. Looking ahead, we feel it’s a realistic target that we can achieve. But let’s take it step by step,” mentioned Dennerby on Friday.
“We have played different teams, different levels of teams, and different playing styles. We learned in Brazil wherein we played three games in a span of seven days with two days in between — a similar format to the group stage of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022. It allowed us to regain 100 per cent of energy, and get back to prime fitness,” the coach added.
The coach mentioned that the defence should overcome its momentary lapse of focus, for which the staff had paid dearly through the video games in South America.
“We have defended well most of the times, but there have been few seconds wherein there has been a lapse in our concentration, and once such a wrong step will be enough for the best teams to hurt us badly,” Dennerby defined.
“In the group stage, we play three different teams who have three different playing styles. The match against Iran will be an extremely tough opener for us. We need to be extremely sharp to thwart their counters, and to deal with their set-pieces,” he mentioned.
“We have tried different players in different positions. When you go into such a big tournament, there can be injuries. So you need to keep all players prepared, and that everybody stays ready.”
The squad had been getting ready since August final 12 months in Jamshedpur, and has been coaching in Kochi since early December. The contingent has additionally travelled to 6 international locations in 2021 which included publicity excursions to Brazil, Sweden, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Bahrain and the UAE.
“We have had quite a long preparation, and it’s been more than five months that we have been together. We have sweated in over 200 different sessions including football sessions, running sessions, games against proper teams, working on different styles, and strength and conditioning sessions. We are feeling good,” Dennerby mentioned.
Dennerby did not single out any specific participant whom he foresees to play an important position.
“For us the support staff, all 23 players are of equal importance. I hope all players are raring to go and make a mark on the field. Of course, we can only bring 11 into the starting line-up. But it also happens what the game situation is all about, and how we need to react to it. Everyone has a role to play, and needs to be ready,” the coach added.
Dennerby has an expertise of over 30 years in teaching a number of nationwide squads with a lot success. He had guided Sweden’s girls’s nationwide staff to a 3rd-place end within the FIFA World Cup in 2011, and a quarterfinal spot within the 2012 London Olympics.
Referring to the absence of stalwarts Sangita Basfore and Bala Devi, Dennerby mentioned that, “it’s sad for the individuals, but we cannot be thinking much about it.
“We have round 4 gamers who’ve been out of the marketing campaign nursing varied accidents. There are 4 gamers whom we could not decide. But as a coach I must push all my vitality on the gamers who can be found, and my job is to assist the 23 who’re right here,” he said.
India are drawn against Iran (January 20), Chinese Taipei (January 23) and China (January 26) in Group A. The top two from each of the three groups, along with the two best second-placed teams from the groups will make it to the quarterfinals.
The four semifinalists will earn a direct slot to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, while the losing quarterfinalists will make it to the play-offs for the Continental play-offs for the last possible slot from Asia.
GOALKEEPERS: Aditi Chauhan (1), Maibam Linthoingambi Devi, Sowmiya Narayanasamy.
DEFENDERS: Dalima Chhibber, Sweety Devi Ngangbam, Ritu Rani, Loitongbam Ashalata Devi, Manisa Panna, Hemam Shilky Devi, Sanju Yadav.
MIDFIELDERS: Yumnam Kamala Devi, Anju Tamang, Karthika Angamuthu, Nongmeithem Ratanbala Devi, Naorem Priyangka Devi, Indumathi Kathiresan.
FORWARDS: Manisha Kalyan, Grace Dangmei, Pyari Xaxa, Renu, Sumati Kumari, Sandhiya Ranganathan, Mariyammal Balamurugan.