By Navaneeth K
BISHKEK, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC: The India U-17 Women’s Team is set to begin their AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers Round 1 campaign against hosts Kyrgyz Republic at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium in Bishkek on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at 19:30 IST. The match will be streamed live on the Kyrgyz Sport TV YouTube Channel.
India are placed in Group F of the qualifiers consisting of three teams, with Myanmar, being the other side. The first match of the group saw Myanmar edge Kyrgyz Republic 1-0 on Monday.
About the preparations for the tournament, head coach Priya PV said, “We have a relatively new squad. For most of these girls, the SAFF U-17 Women’s Championship last month was their first tournament experience. After that, we had a 20-day camp in Indore, where we played some friendly games. There are a few new players in the squad as well. The girls are well-prepared for this tournament.”
India finished in third place in the SAFF U-17 Women’s Championship in Dhaka behind champions Russia and runners-up Bangladesh. The Young Tigresses’ exciting prospect Shilji Shaji won the tournament’s golden boot with eight goals, but unfortunately, will miss the AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers due to pneumonia.
Regarding India’s opponents Kyrgyz Republic, Priya said, “We saw their match against Myanmar. They are a good side. Their players are physically very strong. They will also benefit from playing in familiar conditions at home. However, we will give our everything to win.”
Earlier this month, the Indian Senior Women’s Team played two AFC Olympic Qualifying matches against the Kyrgyz Republic at the same venue, winning 5-0 and 4-0. A sizable Indian student population in Bishkek came to support the Blue Tigresses, and Priya hopes for more of the same tomorrow.
India will next take on Myanmar in their second and last group match on Friday. The group winner will qualify for Round 2 of the Qualifiers consisting of eight teams, which will take place in September 2023. The top four teams from Round 2 will qualify for the AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup Indonesia 2024. Japan, DPR Korea and China PR have already qualified as the top three teams from the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2019.