Women’s football team promises SAG glory

SHILLONG: Oblivious to the hustle bustle around the JN Sports Complex, a group of dedicated and thoroughly professional women are sweating it out to ensure they defend the top honour earned by the side in the last edition of the 12th South Asian Games.
The National camp for the Indian women’s team is underway at the Third Ground, Polo for over two weeks now.
Top female footballers of the country who have represented the nation umpteen times in various international events are preparing hard to see to it that India repeats the feat it achieved in the last South Asian Games in Dhaka; that of emerging champions in women’s football event.
The side is a mix of experience and youth. On one hand there is someone like Oinam Bembem Devi who has been playing for India for the last 20 years while on the other there is the young Aditi Chauhan from Delhi, who became the first Indian girl to play for a British football club.
From inter-team matches to taking on junior boys’ teams of local football clubs, the Indian women football team probables, under the watchful eyes of head coach Sajid Dar, are making full use of their prolonged stay in Shillong to ensure that they leave no stone unturned in retaining the title. The girls are gelling gels well, said head coach Sajid Dar who is confident that his side will go on to defend the title.
“The girls have been here for a while to acclimatize themselves and the team has shaped up well…I am very hopeful that we will defend the title,” said Dar on the sidelines of a practice match of the India players with a junior Shillong Lajong FC team.
For veteran Bembem Devi, this will be the last tournament of her career and without doubt the Games are going to be special for her. “It’s special for me and India for this is the first time we will be playing (in the SAG) at home,” she said.  The chilly weather in Shillong is not a problem for her as “once you get into the pitch all that is in your mind is the zeal to perform.”
She also promised the football fans of Shillong and Northeast that the Indian women’s team will do all it can to defend the title.
Meanwhile, two-times AIFF woman player of the year, Bala Devi said that the team is all pepped up for the Games and looked forward to some quality football in the days to come.
Bala Devi who had scored as many as 16 goals in 5 matches in the SAFF Women’s Championship in Pakistan in 2014 said she will do her best to better that record in Shillong.
West Ham United Ladies goalkeeper Chauhan said that the conditions in Shillong are similar to those in England and she enjoyed her stay and preparations here.
She too was confident that the side will put up a good show in the SAG.
It may be mentioned that 32 players have been shortlisted for the National Camp and the list of the shortlisted players follows below:
GOALKEEPERS: Okram Roshini Devi (Manipur), Aditi Chauhan (Delhi), Panthoi Chanu (Manipur), Pushpa Tirkey (Jharkhand)
DEFENDERS: Romi Devi (Manipur), Ashalata Devi (Railways), Radharani Devi (Manipur), Manisa Panna (Railways), Umapati Devi (Manipur), Sumitra Marandi (Jharkhand), Supriya Routray (Railways), Lako Phuti Bhutia (Sikkim), Dalima Chhiber (Delhi)
MIDFIELDERS: Oinam Bembem Devi (Manipur), Premi Devi (Railways), Indumathi Kathiresan (Puducherry), Sangita Basfore (West Bengal), Margaret Devi (Manipur), Pyari Xaxa (Odisha), Sasmita Malik (Railways), Michel Castanha (Goa), Abeer Arsiwala (Maharashtra), Dorothi Oreya (Assam)
FORWARDS: Bala Devi (Manipur), Prameshwori Devi (Manipur), Kamala Devi (Railways), Jyoti Burrett (Delhi), Dangmei Grace (Manipur), Mandakni Devi (Manipur), Sanju (Haryana), Rinaroy Devi (Manipur), Sakina Nisha (Odisha)

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