Indian Women’s Team attacker Manisha Kalyan believes that playing against technically superior sides in South America in the lead-up the AFC Women’s Asian Cup has helped instill a lot of confidence into the Blue Tigresses.
Speaking in a live chat with AIFF TV, Manisha delved into the three matches that India played against Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela a little over a month ahead of the Asian Cup.
“Playing against those sides was truly a unique experience for us. These are teams that have players who are technically more superior to us, and just keeping up with the pace of the games was so incredibly difficult,” said Manisha.
“We had to stick together and fight like one unit, and I think we gave a good account of ourselves in those three games. That gave us a lot of confidence at the end of the day,” she continued. “Now we know that no matter the quality of the opposition that we face, we can all put up a fight together and do well. That spirit of togetherness has really pumped everyone up ahead of the Asian Cup.”
Just a day ahead of her 20th birthday, Manisha had scored a memorable goal against Brazil, the first by a woman footballer from India against a top 10 ranked side in the world.
“It was a special moment, for sure. I have always been a fan of the Brazilian team. I grew up watching Ronaldinho, and Neymar, and Brazil’s style of football has always intrigued me,” said Manisha. “It was a big moment, but that’s not just the end. The main aim still remains to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. And also I want to keep scoring more goals for my country.”
It has been five months since the Blue Tigresses have been training under new head coach Thomas Dennerby, and the forward from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, feels that the attackers in the side have been given a certain level of freedom, that also comes with a certain level of responsibility.
“Yes, us attackers have a good amount of freedom in terms of going forward with the ball. Ours is not a rigid system, as the coach always wants us to think on our feet and make our own decisions in the attacking third. He guides us in training as to what kind of decisions could be better, but he gives us that freedom of decision making,” she informed.
“But that also comes at a cost, which means that we do have to fall back while defending and help out the midfielders. We have shown that we can be a solid unit at the back, and that means that we all need to get behind the ball and close down the spaces,” she averred.