Indian women’s team confident for the U-17 Women’s World Cup, says Aditi Chauhan
Despite the lack of senior nationals in the country since 2019, goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan of the Star India women's football team believes that the under-17 squad is well prepared for the forthcoming World Cup. India hosted its final U-17 National Championships way back in April 2019.
However, Aditi believes that the Indian squad is on the right road and that they will be one of the teams to watch at the U-17 Women's World Cup. In an interview with PTI from Bhubaneswar, Chauhan stated, “This group has been preparing for this moment for quite some time".
“They’ve been getting regular match time and training regularly and hopefully; they’ll be able to gain more exposure and play more friendlies before the World Cup. I am confident that they will put on a fantastic performance in front of their home crowd at the World Cup." India has already nominated 33 probables, who are now training in Jamshedpur under coach Thomas Dennerby. Without a national event, there have been concerns regarding the selection policies.
“I think India has a lot of potential in their U-17 squad and I have been lucky to play with a few of them. The young girls have shown their fighting spirit in their last SAFF Cup where they were the champions. The players have been practicing together for a long time and I am sure India will be one of the teams to watch out for," she said.
The competition will take place in Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, and Navi Mumbai from October 17 to 30. “The U-17 World Cup is going to be a huge opportunity for our girls to play and compete against the best in the world. It is important that we put on a good display because all eyes will be on our team from across the world. We can demonstrate that women’s football in India is progressing on the right path by doing better here," she added.
After Bala Dev, Aditi is the next player to sign a one-year contract with Iceland's third division club Hamar Hverager I women's squad in April last year.
“We’ve also witnessed the standard of football in other nations by playing against them on a regular basis, and it’s fair to say we’re not that far behind. Of course, we need to improve our game, but the differences are little. We have some extremely good players in our ranks, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of Indian players playing in foreign leagues in the coming years," the star goalkeeper from Tamil Nadu added.
The main emphasis of the Gokulam Kerala goalkeeper is now on Thursday's title-deciding match against Sethu in the Indian Women's League. Gokulam Kerala fans will be able to cheer on their men's squad when they meet Madurai in a winner-take-all final round match at Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium.
“For us, we have to be at our best and give our 100 percent to win this league. We are not underestimating anyone, but, we believe in ourselves in our talent and the work that we have put up throughout this season. “And I trust all the players, coaching staff, and management that we will do whatever it takes to win the league," she said.
The Kerala club boasts the finest striker tandem in the league, with Ghanaian import Elshaddai Acheampong and Manisha Kalyan scoring 32 goals between them. Elshaddai, who has scored 19 goals so far, reflected on her outstanding performance, saying, "Nothing comes easy."
“This is the reflection of the hard work and effort put in by everyone in this team. Without my teammates, who always believe in me, and my coaches, I don’t think I would be the highest goal-scorer of the tournament." Elshaddai, who is from Kumasi in Ghana and has five siblings, began playing football at the age of six.
Since she made her debut with Ghanaian professional team Dreams FC in 2013, she hasn't looked back. She believes the caliber of football in India has increased since she joined Gokulam Kerala in 2021. “If I had to compare with other leagues, I would choose India and I consider it my second home."