New Delhi: India is all set to host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup next year and in order to prepare better and get a good build-up to the mega event, the Mumbai Football Arena will play host to the U-17 Women's Football Tournament 2019, where the India U-17 team will take on Sweden and Thailand.
The tournament being organised under UEFA Assist in collaboration with AFC comes after the recently-concluded U-17 Women's Championship that took place in Kalyani last month, which saw a total of 73 players divided into four teams playing against each other as the Alex Ambrose-coached Lionesses emerged victorious.
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das spoke about the importance of competition as part of the build-up for next year's World Cup, laying emphasis on the "quality of opposition" the Indian U-17 girls will face.
"It is the first time an international tournament for girls in being hosted in India and I'm really looking forward to it. With the FIFA World Cup on the horizon, this will be a great opportunity for the Indian team to face the likes of Sweden and Thailand. I wish the teams all the best for the competition," he said.
"I also need to thank AFC, UEFA, FSDL, Ministry for Sports and Youth Affairs, and Hero Morocorp for all their help and support."
India U-17 World Cup Coach Thomas Dennerby felt the tournament will "benefit the team immensely."
"It is very important to play international friendlies against strong opponents. It helps us to learn more about decision-making in crunch situations, besides helping us to maintain the pace of the game," he said.
"The players and all the staff are very much looking forward to the tournament. It is an acid test which was very much needed."
Sweden ranks as one of the top nations in the world in women's football, with their senior side finishing third in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 in France. It was the fourth time in eight editions that they finished in the top four of the global extravaganza.
Thailand too are considered to be one of the top nations in Asia in women's football, with them having secured consecutive qualifications for the last two FIFA Women's World Cups along with a fourth-place finish at the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2018 in Jordan.
The fixtures for the tournament are as follows:
December 13, 2019 (Friday) - India vs Sweden
December 15, 2019 (Sunday) - Sweden vs Thailand
December 17, 2019 (Tuesday) - Thailand vs India
December 19, 2019 (Thursday) - Final (Group winner vs Group runner-up)
All matches will be played at the Mumbai Football Arena, with the group-stage matches scheduled to kick-off at 6PM. The final is slated to start at 5.30PM.
The 22-member Indian squad is as follows:
GOALKEEPERS: Manju Ganjhu (Odisha), Anshika (Haryana), Tanu (Haryana)
DEFENDERS: Purnima Kumari (Jharkhand), Jyoti Kumari (Odisha), Nirmala Devi Phanjoubam (Manipur), Shilky Devi Hemam (Manipur), Kritina Devi Thounaojam (Manipur), Nisha (Haryana), Astam Oraon (Jharkhand)
MIDFIELDERS: Martina Thokchom (Manipur), Priyangka Devi Naorem (Manipur), Babina Devi Lisham (Manipur), Amisha Baxla (Jharkhand), Aveka Singh (Delhi), Kiran (Haryana), Daisy Crasto (Goa), Sunita Munda (Jharkhand), Mariyammal Balamurugan (Tamil Nadu)
FORWARDS: Sumati Kumari (Jharkhand), Lynda Kom Serto (Manipur), Sai Sankhe (Maharashtra)