The Indian women's national team will lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening match of the SAFF Women's Championships 2022 on September 7. Irrespective of the sport and the context, an India-Pakistan match brings in a lot of emotions owing to its political, historical, and cultural significance.
The Blue Tigresses are the defending champions of the tournament, having won all five previous editions of the competition.
When the two sides meet at the Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, Nepal on Wednesday, India are expected to be the clear favorites. However, in such a high-intensity game and with so much at stake, logic and reasoning might just fly out of the window.
This will be Pakistan's first international game in eight years after the side were slapped with a long FIFA suspension. The Shaheens are flying to Kathmandu with a team filled with debutants, including Doncaster Rovers Belles forward Nadia Khan.
SAFF Championships 2022: Quotes from the India and Pakistan coaches
When Indian head coach Suren Chhetri was asked whether the Blue Tigresses could win the tournament for a sixth straight time, he told the AIFF media team:
"Nowadays, every country is taking the competition very seriously, and come well prepared. Surely, it won’t be a cakewalk for any. But we are prepared. We need to take our chances that come our way. That stays the key. The onus is on us.
"We have a huge challenge in front of us – to maintain the unbeaten record. India are unbeaten for 26 matches in the competition. That’s a unique record."
Pakistan head coach Adeel Rizki commented on the side playing their first international match in eight years. He said:
"We feel our preparations have been good, and we are looking forward to making an impact. The players are very excited to step onto the field. Our squad comprises both local, and overseas talent. We hope to play well and represent our country to the best of our abilities."
SAFF Championships 2022: Full squad for India and Pakistan
India: Aditi Chauhan, Maibam Linthoingambi Devi, Sowmiya Narayanasamy; Sweety Devi, Ritu Rani, Ashalata Devi, Ranjana Chanu, Manisa Panna, Michel Castanha, Juli Kishan, Santosh; Anju Tamang, Priyangka Devi, Martina Thokchom, Sandhiya Ranganathan, Kashmina, Ratanbala Devi; Dular Marandi, Apurna Narzary, Soumya Guguloth, Renu, Kiran Pisda, Dangmei Grace.
Pakistan: Misha Khan, Syeda Mahpara, Atiqa Nasir; Malika-E-Noor, Sahar Zaman, Shanza Nazir, Ghazala Amir, Shahida Amin, Mishal Bhatti, Sara Khan, Nizalia Siddiqui; Maria Khan, Khadija Kazmi, Alina Ishpani, Maliha Nasir, Marvi Baig, Hajra Khan, Rameen Fareed, Suha Hirani; Zulfia Nazir Roshnan Ali, Nadia Khan, Anmol Hira.
SAFF Championships 2022: Live telecast details for India vs Pakistan
There will be no telecast of the SAFF Women's Championships 2022 match between India and Pakistan. However, the much-anticipated tie will be live streamed on Eleven Sports on Wednesday (September 7) from 12.45 pm IST.