India eyeing first win against Myanmar in international women's friendlies

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

New Delhi, Jul 8 (PTI) India will aim for a first win against Myanmar when they renew their rivalry against their higher-ranked neighbours in two away women's football friendlies beginning at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar on Tuesday.

The 67th ranked Indians are winless in all five of their meetings with Myanmar (WR 54), losing four and drawing once.

But it's been five years since they faced Myanmar with the last one being a 3-3 in the AFC Women's Olympic Qualifiers in Mandalay in 2019.

Sandhiya Ranganathan, Sanju and Nongmaithem Ratanbala Devi, all of them part of the current squad as well, scored in that fixture.

Prior to that, India suffered defeats on each of the four occasions at the AFC Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers (2013), AFC Women's Olympic Qualifiers (2015, 2018) and the Gold Cup (2019).

"We've played against them before, so we have an idea about them. Myanmar are strong and physically tough. Their mobility and speed is also good," Indian captain Loitongbam Ashalata Devi said in an AIFF release.

However, it's been more than five years since India last faced Myanmar, and the captain believes these two games will mark a fresh start in this rivalry.

"Myanmar's game style has changed a lot since we last played them. In the Asian Games, we watched them play.

"They have brought in a lot of youngsters, who can generate more energy on the pitch. Our team has the perfect mixture of senior and young players.

"I believe we can perform better and the Myanmar tour could be a successful one," said the 31-year-old Indian skipper.

This will be India's second consecutive FIFA women's international match window facing a higher-ranked opponent.

India had previously faced 48th-ranked Uzbekistan in Tashkent on May 31 and June 4, losing 0-3 and drawing 0-0, respectively.

"Competing against better and higher-ranked opponents is always an advantage. It leaves us with the opportunity to learn more and change strategies according to different situations as we did against Uzbekistan. I'm sure we'll learn a lot from the Myanmar games too," Ashalata said.

Myanmar have been out of action since the Asian Games in China last September.

They were knocked out of the group stage after losing to Korea Republic (0-3) and Philippines (0-3), and their only win came against Hong Kong (1-0).

Before that, Myanmar finished runners-up to Vietnam in the Southeast Asian Games.

Head coach Langam Chaoba Devi feels India can match them.

"We closely observed Myanmar's style of play when they faced Korea Republic and Philippines," said Chaoba.

"Physically they are similar to us, with little difference in height and strength. However, they are technically very sound. But again, as I've said, we can surely match them," added the coach.

Match starts: 3.30pm IST. PTI TAP ATK ATK