Asia's most awaited marquee event AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 is set to begin on Thursday, January 20. The event is going to be held at three different venues in India. The host is set to play their first match against IR Iran, who will be making their Women's Asian Cup debut.
Here are five things to expect from the fixture between India and IR Iran
First home ground victory for the current Indian team in the Women's Asian Cup
India had last hosted the Women's Asian Cup in 1979. Since then, the country has never had the opportunity to host the premiere Asian Championship. Now in 2022, as India is hosting the tournament after 43 years, it is the first time that the current Indian women's team will be playing an Asian Cup match on their home turf.
The team led by skipper Ashalata Devi will be itching to seal their first victory on home ground against Iran tomorrow. Surely, the entire nation would be looking forward to it as well.
Iran's first Women's Asian Cup victory
The Iran women's national team is set to make their maiden appearance at the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022. Even though Iran has the lowest ranking going into the tournament (ranked 70th in the world and 14th in Asia), the team is motivated and working hard to register their first-ever victory in the campaign.
A battle of the goalkeepers
India's first-choice goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan and Iranian keeper Zoureh Koudaei, have both displayed some excellent glove work for their respective teams. Aditi Chauhan is one of the veterans in the Indian squad and has always been the backbone of the Indian women's team on the goalpost.
While on the other hand, Koudaei played a major role in her team's qualification for the Women's Asian Cup 2022, when Iran beat Jordan in penalty kicks during the qualifiers. Both the goalkeepers will have many eyes on them when the two teams clash tomorrow.
India's powerful offence vs Iran's strong defence
The Indian team is quite a well-balanced team and also plays offensively well. With the likes of forwards such as Dangmei Grace, Manisha Kalyan, Renu and others, India has the upper hand in offensively well against debutants Iran.
However, Indian coach Thomas Dennerby has said that Iran is a 'fighting team'. Iran has a strong defence and defends well around the box. The Indian offence will need to break the strong Iranian defence in order to score goals and seal the match.
Battle of the Coaches
It is both Indian head coach Thomas Dennerby and Iranian head coach Maryam Irandoost's first major campaign with their respective teams. The 62-year-old coach Dennerby, who has coached the Nigerian women's national team and India U17 women's team, comes with a lot of experience and training teams for major competitions like the Women's Asian Cup.
On the other hand, Irandoost is the woman behind Iran's women's national team's success story. Under her guidance, the team was able to qualify for their first-ever Women's Asian Cup championship. It will be interesting to see how both the coaches manage their team's from the side-line on the gameday.
The match between India and IR Iran will kick-start their AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 tournament on January 20, at D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. The match begins at 7.30 pm IST. (edited)