First game will decide our fate, says coach Anadi Barua
West Bank: Indian women football team coach Anadi Barua on Monday said their first match of the Women`s Asian Cup qualifiers against Myanmar will decide their fate as it "sets the tone" for the tournament ahead.
"This match will decide our fate. We need a good start. The first match always sets the tone. We start from scratch on Tuesday evening. No pressure and no permutation and combinations. This is to me the most important game. We need to approach it as if it`s the decider," Barua said.
Riding on back-to-back victories in international friendlies against Bahrain, the Indian eves seemed confident of getting the better of their opponents in the opener.
"I would not like to read too much into the friendlies but the victories, especially the second one, was a morale-boosting one. It also gave me a chance to asses my team`s strengths and weaknesses. The one-month camp in Pune helped too," he said.
Myanmar are placed 46 on the FIFA rankings while India are ranked 51.
The Indian eves have been in good form of late winning the SAFF Championships for the second consecutive time last year. They also got the better of a combined Dutch team in one of the exhibition matches played in January this year.
On the other hand, Barua`s counterpart Yoshinori Kumada too is upbeat about his team`s chances.
"We have very little idea about India. All I can say is that the first match is always very important. We have been training hard and are confident of pulling off a good show come tomorrow," Myanmar coach Kumada said.
India`s best performance in the AFC Cup final round was way back in 1997 when they finished fifth.
The Indian side last played in the finals back in 2003. The qualifiers came into existence from 2006. Prior to that, teams were directly seeded in the finals.
On both the occasions, former captain Oinam Bembem Devi was part of the team.
"We have a good team. We have been together for some time now and the chemistry between players is excellent. We know each other`s strengths and weaknesses. The wins against Bahrain helped too. Now starts the real challenge. No team will come easy and we have to be at our best every time," Bembem Devi said.
Out of the 16 teams vying for a place in the finals, only four will make the cut to Japan next year from the qualifiers. The other four seeded-outfits are defending champions Australia, World Champions and hosts Japan, South Korea and China.