Friday , April 12 2024

Anju & Soumya determined not to allow Turkish Women’s Cup title to slip!

Yet another task accomplished, yet another hurdle cleared.

The 2-0 win over Hong Kong in the Turkish Women’s Cup on Saturday afternoon was achieved clinically by the Indian Senior Women’s Team. Never had the sound of the whistle on the pitch reverberated sweeter in the ears when the Turkish referee Melek Dakan blew it to signal the goals by Anju Tamang and Soumya Guguloth.

Now, a bigger piece of business awaits Ashalata Devi and her teammates. The Blue Tigresses, with two back-to-back wins, have deservingly earned the right to buy a huge date with history on Tuesday, February 27, 2024, when they meet Kosovo in the concluding tie in the mountain-surrounded Gold City Sports Complex here. A victory would fetch India their first-ever international title outside the South Asian region.

No one knows it more than Soumya Guguloth. She isn’t a girl, who likes to stick her neck out on every other issue. Rather, she prefers to keep to herself. She doesn’t talk much, though she loves to make the ball talk on the pitch. It was evident on Saturday when the winger ran past the Hong Kong goalkeeper to guide the ball to its ultimate destination.

Soumya is still five months away from her 23rd birthday, but she is already a widely travelled and much-experienced footballer. A star with the IWL side Gokulam Kerala FC, she played for Dinamo Zagreb in the Croatian league. It didn’t take much time for her to realise how important it was to win the Hong Kong tie to have a go at the title and she rose to the occasion promptly.

“We were trying for more goals in the first half after the first goal by Anju (Tamang) Didi, but it didn’t happen the way we wanted it to,” said Soumya after the match.

“In the second half, we reorganised ourselves fully and went for attacks. I wasn’t really expecting to score a goal. But when the opportunity arose, I cut past the goalkeeper at full speed and scored. The ball was going out, but I managed to control it and find the target,” said Soumya with a broad smile on her face.

It was the fifth goal for Soumya in an official international. “I dedicate the goal to my parents and my coach,” she said. The goal, expectedly, thrilled her to a great extent; her style of celebration resembled that of Cristiano Ronaldo’s iconic jump in the air with a mid-air pirouette. “I’ve always been a fan of Ronaldo, so I did it like him,” Soumya said.

Anju Tamang has been one of India’s frequent scorers in international football, but the goal against Hong Kong remained special to her.

“I am very happy that I was able to score for the team. The goal came the way we planned it yesterday with the coach and trained. My aim now is to score the next goal (against Kosovo) and be more clinical in the finishing third,” she said.

The head coach, Langam Chaoba Devi, wasn’t exactly overwhelmed by the Hong Kong triumph but remained confident of a better show in the title-clinching Kosovo encounter.

“The Hong Kong win is over and we are now readying for the Kosovo battle. We will try our level best and go all out to bag the Turkish Women’s Cup. We will all be motivated for the last match of the tournament,” she said.

The coach was candid in her admission that India’s performance against Hong Kong wasn’t up to par, at least not the way she wanted it to be. “Our intensity was better in the first match against Estonia. I can assure you that my girls will not play this way (like in the Hong Kong match) against Kosovo. They will display their best fighting quality in the last match,” said Chaoba, a former defender who enjoyed a decade-long international career during her playing days.

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