New Delhi: “It is difficult to express. I was myself in tears because the girls performed up there with Myanmar,” Maymol Rocky told News18.com about the moment when Indian women’s national team failed to advance to the second round of AFC Olympic qualifiers earlier this month.
They needed a win against Myanmar to advance and create history and they came mighty close as they went toe-to-toe against their much-superior opponents.
They showed zeal, flair, speed and attacking football and put their heart out on the pitch at Myanmar’s home but it just wasn’t enough. A 3-3 draw meant Myanmar went ahead with better goal difference and a million hearts broke at once.
“If you compare women's football in Myanmar with us, we are far behind but that day the girls played so well - it was again planning and preparation for it,” Maymol further said.
There was massive hype around the match as the team was at the cusp of making history. Also, Dalima Chhibber’s sensational free kick during the SAFF Cup had grabbed a lot of eyeballs for women’s football in India.
Despite no telecast in India, social media was abuzz and live streaming links were flowing – it was all new for women’s football in India but nevertheless heartwarming.
The girls believed they could go through – one could see that in the way they challenged Myanmar. And the result was harsh.
“I could not face the girls after the match because they played excellent football and just because of that draw, they couldn't qualify. The girls really believed they could go through,” Maymol shared.
(Photo Credit: AIFF)
As one would expect, a grim dressing room followed that loss. Heads down, shoulders dropped, welled-up eyes and just utter disappointment of not making through.
Maymol Rocky, however, was having none of it.
“We sat down (in the dressing room) and I told the girls that there's nothing to be upset about. ‘If you look at the 90 minutes on the pitch, you played brilliantly’. The girls were all sad and down so that was a bit tough.”
‘Cheer up girls’, Maymol said but the mood remained somber. At dinner that night, Maymol waded off the strict diet she had set and treated the girls with ice cream – even that was hard to feed.
“We went back, everybody was sad. We met for dinner and I told the manager to get some ice cream for the girls and everyone said no. They had a diet which was strictly followed. When I told the manager to get ice cream for the girls, they were like ‘we can't have it ma'am’, I was like 'you have to have it'. They took some time but then they were alright. It was a very disappointing time for us.”
Despite putting up a tough exterior, Maymol herself had a tough time accepting the fact that they had lost. “I believed we would qualify. I was up there with the girls and I said 'I believe we will qualify',” she said.
“For me to see the girls converting those chances, I was super excited with the goals happening because we never scored against Myanmar. But these girls scored the first goal against Myanmar and that was the kind of motivation,” Maymol described the euphoria at the touchline when India scored the first goal of the match.
“I sat back and cried for a day may be but the next day I got up and thought, 'I should be proud of myself also, why not' because if you see the performance, why be upset. It was just we didn't qualify but the team has improved and the girls have improved. Everything was positive except that we didn't qualify. But the girls did more than what we asked for, I can only say that,” Maymol looked ahead with positivity.