Indian women’s team forward Manisha Kalyan believes that playing against technically superior sides in South America in the lead-up to the AFC Asian Cup has raised the side’s confidence level ahead of the continental showpiece. Speaking during a live chat with AIFF TV, Manisha delved into the three matches that India had played against Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela a little over a month. “Playing against those sides was truly a unique experience for us. These are teams that have players who are technically more superior to us, and just keeping up with the pace of the games was so incredibly difficult,” said Manisha.
“We had to stick together and fight like one unit, and I think we gave a good account of ourselves in those three games. That gave us a lot of confidence at the end of the day,” she added.
“Now we know that no matter the quality of the opposition that we face, we can all put up a fight together and do well. That spirit of togetherness has really pumped everyone up ahead of the Asian Cup.” Just a day ahead of her 20th birthday, Manisha had scored a memorable goal against Brazil, the first by a woman footballer from India against a top-10 ranked side in the world,” she said.
“It was a special moment, for sure. I have always been a fan of the Brazilian team. I grew up watching Ronaldinho, and Neymar, and Brazil’s style of football has always intrigued me,” said Manisha.
“It was a big moment, but that’s not just the end. The main aim still remains to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. And also I want to keep scoring more goals for my country,” she added.
It has been five months since the Indian team has been training under new head coach Thomas Dennerby, and the forward from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, feels that the attackers in the side have been given a certain level of freedom.
“Ours is not a rigid system, as the coach always wants us to think on our feet and make our own decisions in the attacking third. He guides us in training as to what kind of decisions could be better, but he gives us that freedom of decision making,” she said.
“But that also comes at a cost, which means that we do have to fall back while defending and help out the midfielders,” she added.
“We have shown that we can be a solid unit at the back, and that means that we all need to get behind the ball and close down the spaces,” she said.
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