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India U-16 Girls coach Firmin D’Souza: Ready to toil hard on the field of play!

Ahead of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Qualifiers in Mongolia, Head Coach of the Indian U-16 Women’s National Team sounded “confident of the team’s ability to play tacky football”.

The Indian Women come on the back of winning the SAFF U-15 Championship in Bhutan and have been drawn in Group B of the Qualifiers along with hosts Mongolia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Laos. In a detailed interview, Firmin talks at length about the team’s preparation, the SAFF Cup win, challenges, and a lot more.

Going into the AFC Qualifiers, will the SAFF triumph have any impact?

It is going to be a major boost in our morale ahead of the Qualifiers and the girls have improved drastically in a span of a fortnight in the Camp. We were the underdogs in the SAFF final against Bangladesh and had overcome all adversities to win the Championship. The potential is huge. The girls have showed that they are capable of playing like Champions. Now we need to do the same in the Qualifiers.

What will be the challenges?

Every team will provide different challenges. Mongolia have the advantage of being the hosts while teams such as Hong Kong are unpredictable and can hurt us with the quality they possess. Laos is going to be the biggest challenge. I feel that match is going to be a key one in our campaign.

Is the team ready to face them?

We have toiled hard over the course of the Camp and the team is ready to face any challenges thrown at them. We stand united but we will have to play to the best of our abilities if we are to qualify for the AFC U-16 Championship finals. It is not going to be an easy outing but we are prepared to fight on the field.

Will the weather be a problem?

For many girls, it will be the first time that they would have travelled to a region which has below zero temperatures. Acclimatization will be our biggest challenge, but we can only hope that we don’t fall prey to it.

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