CHENNAI: All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey and secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran have met with the senior womens team after their stalemate against Nepal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday here, praising their efforts, and motivating them for further improvement.
India played out two draws in their two International Friendlies against Nepal in Chennai -- 2-2 on Wednesday and 0-0 on Saturday. While the results may not have been up to the expectations, the AIFF President was impressed with the dominating performance put out by the team in the two matches.
"I follow all of your matches closely and have been very impressed with the way you play. It is clear that all of you are technically quite sound. Perhaps there's improvement required in certain areas like strength, but there's no doubt that all of you are quality players," said Chaubey to the team.
He further informed the players and coaches of the federation's plans, as per Vision 2047, to popularise women's football in the country.
"We have plans to expand the Women's Nationals (Sr Women's NFCs) and the league (Hero IWL), with high-quality broadcasts. We want your matches to be seen by fans far and wide, and we want you to go back home and analyse your matches again and again so that you can find the areas for improvement," he said.
"In terms of a country-wide outreach, I can assure you that the two International Friendlies against Nepal have been quite successful. You girls were playing at exactly the same time as a high profile ISL match between ATK Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters. I can tell you that while the concurrent viewership for your match was around 38,000, that of theirs was only slightly higher at 49,000," Chaubey informed.
The AIFF chief also said that the ultimate aim as of now is for the women's team to start rising at the Asian level and requested players to look for options to play abroad in order to improve their game.
"We want you all to do well in Asia, and for that we understand all of you need to play more. While we are expanding the domestic calendar, I would also like to personally request all the players in this team to look into options abroad. If you get opportunities in Europe, that's the best-case scenario. If not, you look for options in Asia, he said.
"Play wherever you can, and play as much as possible so that you can improve your game. The more you play outside India, outside your zone of comfort, the more confident you will become in international matches," he added.
Chaubey, who was a goalkeeper during his playing days, revealed how impressed he was with the performance of Panthoi Chanu between the sticks on the night.
"I was very impressed by Panthoi. You kept your concentration throughout, and it's not easy to do so in matches like these, where, as a goalkeeper, the ball rarely comes to you. Towards the end, that can lead to a lapse in concentration and you could concede a goal. That's what happened in the last game, but you showed that you learned from that, and had a brilliant performance today," he said.
I was also impressed with Dalima (Chhibber). Your crosses were great, and I really liked the techniques you used on them. Everyone played really well, and I hope you all keep improving, and that you keep fighting every game till the last whistle is over. I wish you all good luck and keep improving your game," he added.
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