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Finishing, Second Ball Understanding - Two Major Areas Thomas Dennerby is Working on with Indian Women's Football Team

By: Sports Desk


Last Updated: November 20, 2021, 14:53 IST

New Delhi

Thomas Dennerby is the head coach of the Indian women's football team. (AIFF Photo)

Thomas Dennerby is the head coach of the Indian women's football team. (AIFF Photo)

Indian women's football team head coach Thomas Dennerby laid out the areas where he is working on with the players and spoke on the loss of Sangita Basfore.

Thomas Dennerby has a massive job at his hands as he prepares the Indian women’s football team for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022, where the country are participating as the hosts. The tournament will be held in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune from January 20-February 6 next year, where India are grouped with China, Taiwan and Iran. India played six friendlies earlier this year won three games and lost three. Dennerby has said ahead of going for the friendlies that he wanted to see how the players do in these games and understand more about the areas he needed to work on.

After the six friendlies and before three more, Dennerby pointed out the areas that he has been working on.

“During the friendlies earlier, we created chances but couldn’t finish. We need to be focussed in the box to score when the chance comes. Against the best teams in the Asian Cup, you may not get too many chances and you will have to take them. We are also looking to stay more compact.

“We should have won against Hammarby I feel so that showed me we are on the right path. We looked a bit tired in the last game with all the travel but we are going alright. We need to be more clinical up front, stay compact as to not let the second ball bounce back and also work on positioning from the centre backs," Dennerby explained during a media conference on Friday.


India captain Ashalata Devi also said that the team has improved in its understanding of positions and physicality and they are working more and more.

“We have improved in positions and physicality, we have improved quite a bit. We have been working on all areas. Off the field also we learn a lot from the coach who shares his experiences and brings in a lot of quality. As a team, we are happy," she said in the press meet.

India are all set to play a four-nation tournament in Manaus, Brazil from November 25 where they will face the home team, Chile and Venezuela. They will play Brazil on 25, Chile on November 28 and Venezuela on December 1. Both Brazil and Chile have announced their full-strength squad and Dennerby said the matches were more about testing the players than the results.

“It is about trying to do the right thing and not the results. We have quality games ahead and we will have jet lag issues in the first game but we are going to give our best. Chile and Venezuela are also good teams but not at the same level as Brazil and it will be important for us to put our best foot forward. Most important is to see if we can handle the good teams.

“I never tell my players to be okay with losing but that we have to win the games. However, we also know no team wins every time. We want to have that winning mentality and hate to lose," Dennerby said.

Brazil will of course be a massive team to play against for India but captain Ashalata said the players will surely give their best.

“We are very excited about playing against a huge nation (Brazil) and we follow a lot of them. We are going to get a chance to play against them, it’s going to be huge mentally and physically.

“Brazil is much better than us, they have world’s best players but we are lucky to be getting a chance to play against them. We are getting a chance to improve a lot of things. We respect our opponents but we can’t let up any time and we will give our best," she stated.

During the Brazil match, India are going to be up against six-time FIFA Player of the Year and a World Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner Marta. Also, Formiga, who has represented Brazil at seven World Cups, will be playing her final international game against India. Ashalata shared the excitement players have about that and said, “We are dying to play against them."

Dennerby announced a 23-member squad for the friendlies in Brazil and made a few changes compared to the squad that went to the UAE, Bahrain and Sweden tour. Kamala Devi, who was one of the seven Manipuri players to boycott the team over tiff with ex-assistant coach Chaoba Devi, got a call-up to the national team for the first time since December 2018.

However, Ashalata said that Kamala was already fit and was “doing well in the position coach wants her to play in".

Dennerby said it is going to be humid in Manaus, as he experienced during Rio Olympics 2016. After their 40 hours of travel, starting today (Saturday), the team is going to take it easy on Monday with light jogging and walking and will sleep as much as possible on their first day there. They will have a couple of sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, where they will be working on their defence and the coach will show them videos of Brazil to prepare them.

Ahead of the tour, the Indian team lost their holding midfielder Sangita Basfore to an ACL injury. Now, Sangita is out of reckoning for the Asian Cup and forward and India’s best player Bala Devi is extremely unlikely to make it after her surgery.

Dennerby admitted that Sangita’s injury is a huge loss for the team but he is trying to find a solution. “Of course it was tough for her and the team. She is a player every coach wants to have. She is always doing the basics right and if you look at the statistics, she intercepts the most and her work rate is great. Of course we are going to miss her but we have good midfielders and now we are looking for work around it," he stated.

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first published:November 20, 2021, 14:49 IST
last updated:November 20, 2021, 14:53 IST