It's substance over statistics for India women's football coach Thomas Dennerby
The Indian women’s football team has chalked up some impressive results in preparation for the 2022 AFC Asian Cup to be held in the country at the start of next year, but for coach Thomas Dennerby, the focus is not on results but on whether the team is able to execute game plans.
India recorded impressive wins over UAE (4-1) and Bahrain (5-0) and lost a close one against Tunisia (0-1)—which Dennerby feels they should have won—during their ongoing exposure trip to Bahrain.
“It’s good to win football games as it helps girls to get self-confidence. Honestly, I’m not looking at the results. I look more to different situations like how we handled the game, did we do the right things, are we trying to follow the match plan, are we doing right things on the pitch,” said Dennerby.
Dennerby is looking forward to Wednesday’s match against Chinese Taipei which will be the last of their games in Bahrain before they head to Sweden. Chinese Taipei are ranked 40 in the FIFA rankings, 17 notches above India, and will by far be their toughest opponents so far. UAE (100), Tunisia (77) and Bahrain (85) are ranked below India. Dennerby wants the team to face as many top teams as possible so they are ready for the competition in January-February 2022.
“We expect the game against Chinese Taipei to be much tougher. For the first time on this exposure tour, our defence will really be under pressure. I hope the girls can show that we are organised enough to handle better teams," said the Swedish coach. “We need a game where opponents put us under pressure because that will also happen during the Asian Cup. In the game against Chinese Taipei shall see whether we are ready to play against teams playing at higher pace."
In Sweden, the team expects to play Swedish top division clubs and former champions Hammarby and Djurgardens. Dennerby has coached both teams in the past.
“When we go to Sweden next week, we play two good games against Swedish top division teams. It will be played at a higher pace, decision making, your first touch, movement…everything will be played at a higher pace,” said Dennerby.
Bala Devi’s recovery
Dennerby said the team will monitor the progress on Bala Devi, who underwent an ACL surgery last month and is undergoing rehab at Inspire Institute of Sports in Bellary, Karnataka.
“Good players are always part of your plans. She had her surgery in the beginning of September and normally the quickest recovery I heard about after an ACL injury is four-five months. But if she is 100 per cent fit of course (she will be considered). We want to have the best players but also have to plan to score without her. We will see in couple of weeks how her rehabilitation is going,” said Dennerby.