Newly-appointed Indian women’s football coach Thomas Dennerby on Saturday said the team needs to play at least 10 international matches against opponents with diverse playing styles in the run up to the AFC Asian Cup. The 62-year-old Dennerby, who was earlier in charge of the Indian U-17 women’s World Cup squad, was last month roped in to help the senior team prepare for the AFC Asian Cup, which will be hosted in the country from January 20 to February 6 next year.
“It is very important for us to play 11-13 matches before the tournament (AFC Asian Cup) starts. The federation is working very hard trying to help us, we know about the situation with corona," Dennerby said during a virtual media interaction.
“It is important to us to play not less than 10 games before the tournament starts and we need to play different opponents with different playing styles," he added.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has struggled to find an opponent due to the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions in various countries. The team is currently gathered in Jamshedpur for the preparatory camp, leading to the continental event.
“It is tough for us to find opponents, countries which allow us to come. Still in some countries India is red marked. It’s hard for the federation to find attractive opponents to play. But I know they are doing everything they can."
Dennerby, who comes with over three decades of experience and has previously guided Sweden’s women’s national team to a third-place finish in the FIFA World Cup in 2011, and a quarter-final spot in the 2012 London Olympics, said it is vital the Indian team plays diverse opponents.
“The FIFA window opens tomorrow but so far we have no confirmation of a game. We are trying whatever we can. We need to play some teams which are a little bit weaker to implement attacking ideas and (need) some games against equal teams.
“It is also important to find opponent who are a little bit better, who will help us to speed up the pace of the game, the decision making, the passing and receiving and all that you need to do. “Even if we prepare the team now with good endurance training et, but we need to put all the training into the game," he added.
Dennerby said the target is to reach the quarterfinals of the continental showpiece.
“We will put in a huge effort to reach the knock out stage that means going into the quarterfinals and if we can do that it will be successful tournament for us.
“We have a good squad, we have different types of player. We have good defenders, strong one on one players etc."
Talking about the preparation, Dennerby said “We have been in camp for about three and a half weeks now. A normal week for us is 11 sessions, the girls are working very hard.
“It’s only five and a have months for the AFC women’s championship. We have a longtime plan also we can’t do everything in the first week, we can’t overload the work, we are trying to increase the load gradually," he added.