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Football

India begin SAFF U16 Women's Championship title hunt with Bhutan clash

The Young Tigresses will begin their SAFF U16 Women's Championship 2024 campaign against Bhutan on Friday.

India begin SAFF U16 Womens Championship title hunt with Bhutan clash
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The Young Tigresses will begin their SAFF U16 Women's Championship 2024 campaign against Bhutan.

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 29 Feb 2024 12:31 PM GMT

The Indian U16 Women's Team will begin their SAFF U16 Women's Championship 2024 campaign against Bhutan at the ANFA Complex in Lalitpur, Nepal on Friday.

It's the first time the tournament is being held by SAFF for the U16s. Twice India have won the SAFF U15 Women's Championship in 2018 and 2019. With the U19s jointly winning the SAFF U19 Women's Championship in Bangladesh earlier this month, it has only fuelled the Young Tigresses even more to get the U16 title home as well.

Highlighting the preparations and overall mood ahead on the eve of the tournament, head coach Biby Thomas said, "Our preparations have been well. India are a football development country and we're always focusing on the future. In these youth tournaments, we always want to give opportunities to players to develop."

Thomas is no stranger to winning silverware in Nepal. He was the assistant coach of India's title-winning SAFF U19 Men's Championship just five months ago and is now hoping to make it two in two.

"Our girls are high on confidence despite this being their first international tournament. Their unity shows on the training pitch and they are hungry for success," he added.

15-year-old Shveta Rani has been named India's captain for the tournament. She is the only player with prior international experience, having made the U17 squad for the AFC U17 Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan last year.

The confident midfielder from Haryana said, "We held practice sessions for almost two months in Goa with our good coach. We have a great bunch of players. We're all new to international football, but it doesn't matter that we've not got any experience. The real experience comes from our heart and we have no shortage of that."

Sharing her thoughts on the climate in Nepal, Shveta said, "We could easily adapt here in Nepal. It's cooler here as compared to Goa where we held our camp, but many parts of India also have such sort of weather in the winter, so we have no problem in adjusting to this environment."

After tomorrow's match, India will face Bangladesh on March 5 and Nepal on March 7. The top two teams at the end of the round-robin stage will meet in the final on March 10.

Thomas added, "Of course, we don't know anything about our opponents so far, since this is probably the first time most of the players are playing a SAFF tournament. However, in youth tournaments like these, all teams are competitive because they are hungry to prove themselves. We will get the opportunity to watch Bangladesh and Nepal play on Saturday. For tomorrow, we have to fulfil all preparations from our end and go for the win."

The India Vs Bhutan match will be streamed live on the Sportzworkz YouTube Channel at 14.45 IST.

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