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AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022: 'The team is mentally strong,' says goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan

India are aiming to qualify for the quarterfinals of the continental event

Aditi Chauhan football

Aditi Chauhan



Updated: 23 Jan 2022 8:59 AM GMT

Despite being held to a goalless draw in their opening game of the women's Asia Cup, the members of the Indian team have a lot of "belief" that they can do well in the tournament, goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan said on Saturday. Hosts India put up a dominant performance but were let down by their forwards who failed to score despite attacking incessantly to share the spoils with lower-ranked Iran. It was a landmark match for Aditi, who did well to maintain a clean sheet in her 50th international appearance for India.

Asked about the mood in the camp, Aditi told, "There's belief among all. All the girls are mentally very strong." India are aiming to qualify for the quarterfinals of the continental event but for that to happen, they will first need to beat Chinese Taipei on Sunday. All the semifinalists will directly qualify for next year's FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Two more teams from the remaining four quarterfinalists will also get direct berths to the World Cup if Australia make it to the semifinals of this tournament, the probability of which is high.

That means even the teams that lose in quarterfinals can directly qualify for the World Cup if they win the play-off matches of the AFC Asian Cup on February 2 and 4. The two losing quarterfinalists will feature in the Intercontinental play-offs. The 29-year-old custodian said she never thought about reaching the 50-match milestone. "You never really think of such things. Of course, as a young girl, I've always dreamt of wearing the India jersey. Putting on the India jersey has been special every time. But doing it consistently for years is a privilege for which I feel very fortunate."

Emphasising that there is no substitute for hard work, Aditi said she has faced a lot of ups and downs in her career. "There have been a lot of ups and downs, smiles and tears in all these years. But what I've learnt is that there is absolutely no substitute for hard work. I've tried to take all the criticism in my stride and I'm grateful for every bit of success that has come my way." The goalkeeper recalled how her parents were initially hesitant to let her play the sport. "My parents were initially concerned about me playing football. There was nobody (girls) around me who I knew was playing football, or made it their profession.

We didn't know what the future was like. Obviously, my parents were concerned about the physical safety in a contact sport. "It is also quite physically and mentally demanding. There's also the other perspective of facing society as a girl playing sports. I guess I also understand why they were also a little apprehensive initially when I told them that I like to play football." However, they were convinced when Aditi got her maiden India call-up. "I guess one of the main turning points was when I got my first India call-up -- that made them really proud. My dad is in the CRPF, he's worked all his life for the nation. So when I got that India badge, that really changed his perception."

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