Meet the 23 players who can create history for Indian football
From farmers' daughters to orphans and policewomen patrolling city streets, these are the 23 footballers from across the country who will represent India at the Women's Asian Cup 2022.
The Indian women's football team is all set to play their first match of the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 against IR Iran. Before the team kick-starts their tournament, everyone should be familiar with Blue Tigresses who will be making the country proud on the home ground.
Meet the Indian women's football team.
1. Aditi Chauhan (Jersey no. 1)
Aditi is the main goalkeeper for the Indian team. She switched to football from basketball at the age of 15 and since then has represented India in U19, and later the Senior women's team. She is considered a leader on and off the field and a role model to many upcoming footballers.
2. Maibam Linthoingambi Devi (Jersey no. 23)
Linthoi hails from a farming family in Manipur and has come through the youth system, representing India in the U16 and U19 AFC Championships. She made her national team debut in 2018. Linthoi who is known for her acrobatics had her big breakthrough when she was selected as the first-choice goalkeeper in the 2nd round of the AFC Women's Olympics Qualifiers.
3. Sowmiya Narayansamy (Jersey no. 19)
Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Sowmiya also comes from a farming family. She caught everyone's eyes with her performance in the junior and state-level tournaments. In 2018, Sowmiya was presented with the opportunity to represent Indian at U19 qualifiers in Thailand, where she kept a clean sheet in two matches – against Pakistan and Thailand.
4. Dalima Chibber (Jersey no. 17)
At 24, Dalima is one of the most experienced defenders in the Indian squad. Dalima has captained the U19 AFC qualifiers in Jordan. Known for her set-pieces, Dalima had scored a 35-yard screamer in the SAFF Championships final, which is quite famous amongst the fans.
5. Ngangbam Sweety Devi (Jersey no. 2)
The central defender is often referred to as the next big thing in Indian football. Known for her accurate long passes, Sweety is a regular in the Indian squad defending the backline with captain Ashalata Devi.
6. Ritu Rani (Jersey no. 21)
Hailing from Alakhpura, Ritu is one of the Indian footballers who are creating a revolution for women's footballers in Haryana. The Blue Tigress is known for her tough tackling and aerial abilities on the field.
7. Loitongbam Ashalata Devi (Jersey no. 4)
The backbone of the Indian squad, skipper Ashalata Devi is one of the most experienced players on the team. She was nominated for the AFC Women's Player of the Year in 2019. In the same year, she won the AIFF 2019 Player of the Year. She is known as the rock of the backline.
8. Manisa Panna (Jersey no. 3)
Growing up in Odisha, Manisa played football with boys in her village. Manisa's late father was her first coach. She was part of the national team squad which won the 2016 SAFF Championship and SAG Games.
9. Hermam Shilky Devi (Jersey no. 5)
At 16, Shilky Devi is the youngest player across all teams to compete in the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022. She often plays as a defender and a central midfielder. AT 12, she was the joint top-scorer at the 2018 SAFF U15 Women's Championship and also scored two goals in the AFC U16 qualifiers.
10. Sanju Yadav (Jersey no. 8)
Hailing from a village in Haryana, Sanju faced many objections when she first decided to play football. But this didn't discourage her from taking up the sport, she went on to win the 2019-20 AIFF Women's Players of the Year.
11. Yumnam Kamala Devi (Jersey no. 6)
Kamala is the 2017 recipient of the AIFF Women's Player of the Year. The experienced and attacking midfielder already has 33 goals to her name. Kamala is also a key player when it comes to setting up teammates with her beautiful assists. She has also won the SAFF women's Championship on four occasions and also helped India win gold medals at 2010 and 2016 South Asian Games.
12. Anju Tamang (Jersey no. 9)
A versatile player, Anju fell in love with football during her school days and played against the boys in her village. Initially playing as a forward, she was later moved back to wing-back and the midfielder position. Anju has contributed to the Indian team winning the SAFF Championship and the SAG Games gold medal.
13. Karthika Angamuthu (Jersey no. 20)
An exceptionally crafty midfielder, Karthika took up football at the age of 11. Karthika's parents are mill workers but have always encouraged their daughter to chase her big dream. Her performance in the Hero Indian Women's League earned her a spot in the Senior team.
14. Nongmaithem Ratnabala Devi (Jersey no. 7)
Ratan, as she is fondly called by her teammates, scored her first international hat-trick against Indonesia in 2019. She was also the joint top scorer with Sandhiya Rangantha, netting two goals in three matches at the AFC Women's Olympics qualifiers in 2019.
15. Naorem Priyangka Devi (Jersey no. 14)
Also hailing from a farming family, the 18-year-old Priyangka is blessed with sublime ball control and the ability to put in deadly set-pieces. The youngster was named the Most Valuable player of the 2018 SAFF U15 Women's Championship, where India won the title. Priyangka was also India's top scorer at the 2021 SAFF U-19 Women's Championship.
16. Indumathi Kathiresan (Jersey no. 12)
A sub-inspector in the Tamil Nadu Police worked as a frontline worker during the Covid-19 in 2020. She led her team in patrolling the streets of Chennai and ensuring everyone's safety. On the field, Indumathi is an essence of confidence and a key player in the midfield.
17. Grace Dangmei (Jersey no. 11)
Hailing from Manipur, Grace is known for her dribbling skills and speed on the pitch. Grace is a recipient of the Emerging Player of the Year award in 2019. She had scored against Indonesia in the 2020 AFC Women's Olympics qualifiers and also against Venezuela during India's recent tour of Brazil in 2021.
18. Manisha Kalyan (Jersey no. 16)
Manisha is the young forward who had the entire nation rejoicing when she scored against mighty Brazil in the four nations tournament in 221. Hailing from Punjab, Manisha started playing football at the age of 13 after her PT teacher insisted she switch from athletics to football.
19. Pyari Xaxa (Jersey no. 10)
Debuting for India at the age of 18, Pyari is nicknamed 'Ferrari' for her stunning speed on the ground. In 2015, she won the 2015 AIFF Emerging Woman Footballer of the Year award. She was also voted the Indian Football Fans' Player of the Year 2020-21.
20. Renu (Jersey no. 15)
Daughter of daily wagers in Haryana, Renu Rani is known for breaking boundaries. She is known for her famous five gaols in the AFC U19 Women's Qualifier against Pakistan, a match where India won by 18-0. She also scored India's match-winning goal against Chinese Taipei in a friendly in 2021.
21. Sumati Kumari (Jersey no. 22)
The Jharkhand attacker was scouted by AIFF into the junior national team camps in 2016. Sumati was a part of the victorious Indian team at SAFF U15 Championship in 2019, where she scored three goals in four matches.
22. Sandhiya Ranganathan (Jersey no. 13)
After losing her father at a young age, Sandhiya grew up in an orphanage. Juggling between orphanage and school, football became the forward's road to success. In the 2018 COTIF Cup in Spain, she scored a screamer against Morocco. She was also the joint top scorer with Ratanbala in the AFC Women's Olympics Qualifier.
23. Mariyammal Balamurugan (Jersey no. 18)
The 18-year-old youngster has already earned two senior international caps in her bag. hailing forms a farming family in Tamil Nadu, Mariyammal was scouted from the 2018 Khelo Indian Games. She has also represented India in the U16 and U19 AFC qualifiers.