South Asian Games football preview: Indian women face Nepal test
On a high after thrashing Sri Lanka 5-0, the Indian women's football team will aim to hold on to its current form when it faces Nepal in the on-going South Asian Games (SAG) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Thursday.
India's first victory in the competition came against the island nation after a goalless draw with the Maldives.
On the other hand, Nepal are yet to concede a goal in the on-going championship and sit pretty atop grabbing maximum points out of two matches courtesy a 2-0 win over Maldives and a 3-0 win over Bangladesh.
However, it will also be a litmus test for the Nepalese attack force when they face a compact Indian defence line which has allowed only one shot at its goal in over 180 minutes.
Nepal to prove a stern test for the Indian side
"Nepal are one of the strongest teams in the tournament and we respect our opponents as they possess the necessary weapons to hurt us. We need to be focused and concentrate on the task at hand. An early goal will make things fluid for us. However, we are not expecting an easy clash against Nepal," India head coach Sajid Dar said in a release.
"Nepal's results in the (South Asian) Games speak for themselves and it will be our toughest match in the championship," he added.
Skipper Bembem Devi said she was happy with the result against Lanka but pointed out that the team should not get carried away by the result, rather it should focus on winning the next matches.
"It was a deserving win but we should not get carried away with the result. There are still two matches to be played and we have to give our all in the remaining fixtures," she said.
"There is always room for improvement in football and the win over Sri Lanka gives us a boost in our morale after the draw against Maldives. We hope to capitalize and build on the win," the veteran forward added.
Defender Manisa Panna believes that the match against Nepal will be even and anybody can emerge winners.
"It does not matter what the statistics are. Football is seldom played on statistics. Tomorrow will be a new day and both the teams are capable enough to beat the other.
"All we have to do is give our cent percent on the pitch and hopefully grab a positive result. Nepal are a very tough side and their Strikers are swift. We have to keep a tab on their wingers," Manisa said.