Indian men's football team captain Sunil Chhetri urged the Indian women's football team to "leave no stone unturned," and start preparing for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 from now itself.
Last month, AFC granted India the right to host the coveted continental tournament in two years' time, making it the second major women's tournament to be held in the space of two years in the country after the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2021.
"It is an amazing opportunity that they have -- to play in such a high-level tournament. These are the levels where you want to be, playing the best in the continent," Chhetri, who is the only Indian player to have appeared in two different editions of Asian Cup, commented.
"I'd like to urge all of them to start preparing for the tournament from now on itself. The last thing you want to do is feel regret once you start playing the tournament," he advised.
"Look into every small aspect of your game and try to improve it - your touch, speed, saving ability, shooting, burning those extra body fats - the process needs to start from right now."
Having faced some of the top Asian oppositions in the AFC Asian Cup in 2011 and 2019 like Australia, Republic of Korea, Bahrain, UAE and Thailand, Chhetri feels that it is a unique opportunity for every player.
"It's such a great opportunity to play against some top opposition to play against the top opposition from Asia. That is why it is even more important to start preparing from now," Chhetri continued.
"Once you have taken every step and prepared yourself in every manner possible, make sure that you enjoy the tournament once you start playing it. It's not every day that you play on the continental stage, and it's important for you to enjoy the moment," said Chhetri.
"The pressure will always be there but it's important to enjoy it because football is all about being happy. I'd be more than happy to watch you all from the stands, once the tournament starts."
Indian senior women's team head coach admitted that "hosting the event itself is giving us goosebumps."
"The plan is already there to reach the level. We'll also play in the qualifiers. On behalf of the team I would like to thank Sunil for all his support. We will give it our all. Everyone is looking forward to it."