ANI Photo | Time to get show on road: Ashalata on eve of Turkish Women’s Cup

The historic city of Istanbul is far from frozen in the month of February. But then, the temperature does dip and a brisk winter air leaves a definite chilly feeling for anyone who arrives in Turkey’s well-known winter sun destination.
This is, however, not a new experience for Ashalata Devi, the seasoned defender, who will lead India in the four-nation Turkish Women’s Cup beginning in Alanya, Turkey, on Wednesday, February 21, 2024. She has played this tournament twice before and is well aware of the tough competition India are expected to face in the next one week. Estonia, Kosovo and Hong Kong are the other three teams in the tournament.
As the Indian team arrived at the Istanbul airport on its way to Alanya, the Indian captain looked through the window at the tulip-shaped control tower and said: “It’s been a long journey from Bengaluru to New Delhi to Istanbul. Yes, we are feeling a bit tired because of a lack of rest.”
“But that is not going to deter us from playing well in this tournament. We have two days before the first match. So, we will take the necessary rest and get prepared to do well in the three matches we have on schedule. But we are professional players. However tiring the journey is, we remain prepared to take everything in stride and give our best. It is time we got the show on the road,” said the star footballer from Manipur.
Equally confident is Langam Chaoba Devi, who has been handed over the baton of head coach for the first time.
“We had seven good days in the Bengaluru camp and our preparation was good. We have been concentrating on defending because we are playing against physically strong countries. Our girls are fit as we are in the middle of the IWL season. I have full confidence in my squad. We are getting a tour like this after a long gap and are very eager to play these three matches.”
Chaoba said getting international exposure is advantageous for the young girls. “We have three players who have played in the U17 World Cup, but the senior level is different. They will see how European teams play and this will benefit them. I’m confident that we will do our best in these three matches and go all out to win. We have seen and analysed the matches of our opponents.
The job in hand, Chaoba said, is not exactly a completely new experience for her. “This is my first tournament as senior India head coach, but I’m not new to the girls. I was with them three to four years ago. I have a very good understanding with them. They have prepared fantastically in the last one week. We are also extremely thankful to our technical director (Shabir) Pasha sir, who is always guiding us well.
“The environment in the camp was good. We have a good mix of young and experienced players. We are trying to help them bond together, which is very important because football is a team game. The girls are giving their best and are composed,” she said.
India’s fixtures at the Turkish Women’s Cup 2024:
19:00 IST, February 21: India vs Estonia
19:00 IST, February 24: India vs Hong Kong
16:00 IST, February 27: Kosovo vs India.

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