Friday , April 19 2024

Know India’s opponents at Turkish Women’s Cup 2024!

The Indian senior women’s team have touched down in the coastal town of Alanya for their first assignment of the year – the Turkish Women’s Cup 2024.

The tournament will see India square off against three opponents, including two European sides the Blue Tigresses have never faced before – Estonia and Kosovo. The other Asian side are Hong Kong, against whom India hold an unbeaten record of eight wins and a draw in nine previous meetings. Although all three teams are ranked lower than India (65th), the matches are anticipated to be tight and physical affairs, especially with the quality possessed by the European teams. It presents a chance to create history as India look to register their first-ever win over a UEFA side in an official match.

Estonia (ranked 98th)

India’s opening fixture at the Gold City Sport Complex will be against 98th-ranked Estonia on February 21 at 19:00 IST. The record 11-time Women’s Baltic Cup champions contested the Turkish Women’s Cup in 2023 as well, recording a 1-2 loss to Kosovo, followed by a 1-1 draw with North Macedonia.

Estonia are led by two local head coaches, Anastassia Morkovkina and Sirje Kapper – both former internationals. Morkovnina is Estonia’s all-time top scorer. In the current squad, goalscoring responsibilities are mostly shouldered by 25-year-old Lisette Tammik, who netted six of Estonia’s 11 goals in the 2023-24 UEFA Women’s Nations League C as they finished 2nd in Group 4 with 10 points after beating Armenia and Kazakhstan.

Estonia have come to Turkey with a largely youthful squad, with 13 of their 22 players born in the year 2000 or later. Among their most experienced players are defenders Kelly Rosen and Siret Räämet, goalkeeper Karina Kork, and midfielders Kairi Himanen, Vlada Kubassova and Mari Liis Lillemäe. The squad mostly contains players from the Naiste Meistriliiga, Estonia’s top division league. Only six members play for foreign clubs in other European leagues in Austria, Poland, Hungary, Norway and Finland.

Hong Kong (ranked 79th)

Hong Kong will be a familiar face for a few senior names in the Indian squad when they meet on February 24 at 19:00 IST. The Blue Tigresses last faced the East Asians in two friendlies in 2019, winning 5-2 and 1-0, respectively. Pyari Xaxa, Grace Dangmei and Sanju, who are all part of the current squad, netted in those fixtures.

The history between India and Hong Kong goes way back to the first meeting at the 1980 AFC Women’s Championship in Kozhikode, and Saturday’s game will add a new chapter in it. Hong Kong have been coached by Brazilian José Ricardo Rambo since 2017, but are not enjoying the best of forms at the moment, lying in the 79th place in the FIFA rankings, their lowest-ever spot.

As far as their recent results are concerned, Hong Kong crashed out of the Asian Games group stage after defeats to Philippines, Myanmar and Korea Republic. In December 2023, they bagged big wins over Northern Mariana Islands and Mongolia in the preliminary round of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship, but couldn’t qualify for the final round after a heavy 0-11 loss to Korea DPR. Hong Kong are no strangers to the Turkish Women’s Cup, having participated in 2023 too, when they lost 0-2 to Bulgaria and 0-7 to Kosovo.

Kosovo (ranked 100th)

India’s last match will be on February 27 at 16:00 against Kosovo, who might be the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, but their recent form suggests that they will line up as one of the favourites to be crowned champions. One of FIFA’s newest members, the Kosovo women’s team played its first-ever official match in the inaugural edition of the Turkish Women’s Cup in 2017, and have come a long way since then.

From being ranked 125th in August 2020, they have now broken into the top 100 after an almost impeccable year 2023, where they won 10 and drew one of their 11 matches. Led by Swedish coach Karin Anneli Andersen, Kosovo earned a historic promotion to the UEFA Women’s Nations League B after topping their League C group thanks to dominant victories over Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Apart from that, Kosovo won the 2023 edition of the Turkish Women’s Cup and the BFU International Women’s Cup, a friendly tournament in Bulgaria.

Among their key players are captain and forward Erëleta Memeti, who plays for German club Hoffenheim, and has netted 10 goals for Kosovo. Fellow attacker Kaltrina Biqkaj is the country’s highest-capped player (47) at just 23 years of age. Defender Edona Kryeziu and midfielder Donjeta Halilaj of Beşiktaş are other important names to watch out for, and so is 19-year-old sensation Valentina Metaj, who averaged a goal every two games for Kosovo last year. A good chunk of the Kosovar squad plays club football abroad – in England, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Albania and Austria.

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

About Press Release

Check Also

Gokulam Kerala FC Women to hold trials on April 25!

Former Indian Women’s League champions Gokulam Kerala FC are set to hold trials for their …