Football

Asian Cup | Bhutia praises the Blue Tigresses

Well prepped:  Bhaichung Bhutia feels India was organised and maintained its shape throughout.

Well prepped: Bhaichung Bhutia feels India was organised and maintained its shape throughout.

The Indian women’s football team could not force a win against Iran in its Asian Cup opener but the performance has drawn praise from the legendary Bhaichung Bhutia. Bhutia, who watched the proceedings from the venue on Thursday, said the Indian team was unfortunate not to end on the winning side.

“I am extremely impressed by the manner in which the girls played. They were unfortunate not to get three points. The Iranian goalkeeper also came up with some amazing saves which further denied us,” Bhutia said.

“Women’s football has come a long way,” said the former captain.

From his own experience, Bhutia knew the first match was tough, but he was pleased with the manner in which the team operated tactically.

“The Blue Tigresses were so organised and maintained their shape throughout. They were able to open up during the attacks, and narrow it down while defending — all of which are hallmarks of a well-drilled squad,” he said in a release from All India Football Federation.

“They (players) moved back to positions fast, and there was always someone to support the other.”

“Coach Thomas Dennerby needs to be complemented. He has done an awesome job,” Bhutia.

Considering the missed chances by the Indian forwards against Iran, Bhutia rued the unavailability of star striker Bala Devi, who is recovering from a surgery.

“Maybe, looking back, the experience of a Bala Devi upfront may have been handy. But injuries are part and parcel of football, and I am confident the others will fill in the void,” Bhutia said.

Former national women’s team captain Bembem Devi, who was also present at the stadium, was also delighted at the performance of the home side.

“The face of women’s football in India has totally changed. Everything was so well coordinated, the fitness level was exceptional. I am unable to recall when our women’s team was such a fit unit,” she said.

“All of these promise a bright future for us. The passing accuracy stood out. Iran have always been a very physical team. But our players were fearless -- the strength of our players stood out,” Bembem said.

She said coach Dennerby has changed the approach of the Indian team with his training methods.

On Friday, captain Sam Kerr struck five goals for the tournament’s first hat-trick in Australia’s 18-0 mauling of lowly Indonesia in their opening match.

The star Chelsea striker, who was named the FIFA Best Player Award runner-up recently, began the match one goal behind Tim Cahill in Australia’s all-time (male-or-female) top scorers’ list and ended it four ahead for a total of 54 in her 105th match.

The results: At Mumbai: Australia 18 bt Indonesia 0; the Philippines 1 bt Thailand 0.

At Pune: Japan 5 bt Myanmar 0; South Korea 3 bt Vietnam 0 .


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Printable version | May 23, 2022 11:34:13 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/asian-cup-bhutia-praises-the-blue-tigresses/article38305011.ece