AFC Women's Asian Cup: India coach has 'realistic' target of reaching quarters
Coach Thomas Dennerby believes, India's second game against Chinese Taipei will be an "equal game" but the final match against China will be a tough one.
Indian women's football team head coach Thomas Dennerby said his side is well prepared and its first realistic target is to reach the quarterfinals of the upcoming AFC Asian Women's Cup. Hosts India will open their campaign against Iran on January 20.
"I said from the beginning when we started, we said that yes, to come to the quarter-final is our first target, first aim," Dennerby said during a virtual media interaction in the run-up to the continental tournament on Friday.
"And if we come all the way to the quarterfinal, everything can happen because when we are in quarterfinal and it's a knock-out stage, everybody, all teams will play under pressure. But definitely (reaching) quarterfinals is our target and we also think it's a realistic target."
The Indian team has been drawn against Iran (January 20), Chinese Taipei (January 23) and China (January 26) in Group A of the competition that consists of 12 teams.
Talking about the opposition, Dennerby said: "It is (like) three different teams with three different playing styles. I guess the first game against Iran will be a tough one for us because what we have seen so far (they are) defending very well. They are organized and they will play low, defending."
"They also have one really good striker that's always on the run. So, even if we dominate the game, as a defender you always have to be on your toes. They are also good on set pieces, they scored a lot of goals on free-kicks and corners, so we also need to be very sharp on that (front). Don't give them any corners or easy free-kicks," he added.
According to Dennerby, India's second game against Chinese Taipei will be an "equal game" but the final match against China will be a tough one.
"Finally, China, I will say from my point of view; classical Asian style with a lot of short passes with good combinations. It is going to be a tough one, of course, but still China is not at the level they were a couple of years ago and they won this tournament. But still a very good team and probably the toughest game for us," he noted.
The 62-year-old Swede said that the team is well prepared for the marquee tournament.
"We have (had) such a long preparation time now and we have been together for more than five months. In total there are over 200 different sessions including football, strength, running sessions and game against proper teams and different styles and all that. So, yeah, we finally feel that we are really well prepared now."
For Dennerby, all the 23 players are important as he refused to single out a player when asked who would be his trump card. "For us, all the 23 players are very important and I hope that all players are prepared and ready to play," Dennerby said.