AFC Women’s Asia Cup: A steady yet disappointing start from the Indian Women’s team as they could only secure a 0-0 draw against tournament debutants Iran at the AFC Women’s Asia Cup on Thursday night at the DY Patil Stadium. Follow all the AFC Women’s Asia Cup LIVE Updates only on InsideSport.IN
It was a frustrating night for the Indian football fans as they saw their teams create a lot of chances but were not clinical enough to put it past the Iranian goalkeeper. India missed chances in every way they could. It can be nerves of playing at such a big stage but head coach Thomas Dennerby will hope they will get back to winning ways in their next game against Chinese Taipei.
FT | 🇮🇳 India 0 – 0 IR Iran 🇮🇷
— #WAC2022 (@afcasiancup) January 20, 2022
Here are the five talking points from India’s opening AFC Women’s Asia Cup draw against Iran.
Zohreh Koudaei: Iran’s unbreachable wall
Despite all the noise surrounding the Iran Women’s national team, her performance on the field against India was exemplary. Koudaei was sensational with her saves as she persistently denied the Indian forward. Her command over the defenders and her understanding of when to come out and when to stay on the line created a difference for Team Melli in securing a point against the host nation.
Koudaei made several saves and was good from setpieces as well. Her daring attitude was needed as she was fearlessly in the collection from corners and crosses. However, the highlight from the game was how he kept out Dangmei Grace’s header from close range. It was a great show of reflex as Koudaei parried the ball away right on the line.
Indian forwards lacked composure in front of goal
Probably the most frustrating aspect of India’s opening game was the lack of application from the Indian forwards. They simply couldn’t find the killer blow despite creating so many chances on either half. India dominated the game, hogged the ball possession and tested the Iran defence multiple times. But none of Manisha Kalyan, Indumathi Kathiresan, Pyari Xaxa, Sandhya Ranganathan and even later Dangmei Grace also could not find a way past Zohreh Koudaei.
The Blue Tigresses had a staggering 24 shots in total and they were exceptional in their penetrative movements and attacking buildups. But they lacked composure once they entered the penalty box. None of India’s star forwards could find the back of the net despite taking five shots on target. This is a concerning statistic for Thomas Dennerby and once again proves that India have not yet found an alternative for Bala Devi upfront.
Anju Tamang’s stellar performance in midfield
India struggled to hold the ball in midfield early and it seemed like they were taken aback by the grandeur of the tournament. The Indian midfielders struggled to contest physically with their Iranian counterparts. But Anju Tamang was total different from the crowd. Her exceptional ball control, quick feet and crisp passing made her a very vital cog in the middle for the Blue Tigresses.
Tamang also had a nervy start but she gradually settled in near the half-hour mark. he recycled the ball, drilled in some great long balls and also proved that technicality is far superior to only physicality. The diminutive midfielder was India’s one of the best performers in the tournament opener.
Dangmei Grace’s instant impact
Recently looking at Thomas Dennerby’s methods of using Dangmei Grace it was not surprising that the Swede brought him on in the second half. She instantly created an impact with her mazy runs down the right flank. Grace as her name suggests was very graceful with her daunting runs into the penalty area. She was the closest to scoring but saw her header get saved from the goal line by the Iranian custodian. Minutes later her long range effort clipped the crossbar on the way out.
There are some talk about whether Grace should be in the starting lineup or not. But Dennerby likes to use her raw pace to capitalize on the tired opponent defenders. That was the plan today and the plan almost succeeded. Dangmei Grace almost scored in the final moments of the game as she was one on one with only the goalkeeper to beat but she took too much time and the ball was cleared away by an Iranian defender close by.
Iran’s one point gained is India’s two points lost
Group A comprising of India, China, Iran and Chinese Taipei is very tricky. While eight time champions China has already announced their arrival with a 4-0 win against Chinese Taipei. India also needed to start with a win but they could only secure a draw against the tournament debutants. Without any disrespect Iran are the weakest team in the group and dropping two points against them can be costly for Thomas Dennerby and his ladies.
The Blue Tigresses need to win their match against Chinese Taipei and also put up a brave performance against heavyweights China to make it to the knockouts. but on the other hand, it is a good start to the campaign for Team Melli as they got off the mark on their first game and will be looking to build on this in the next two matches.