AFC Asian Cup: After delay, Indian team arrives in Mumbai, follows Chinese Taipei

NEW DELHI: The Indian football team arrived here for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup on Thursday, hours after its scheduled flight from its training base Kochi got delayed.
Amid the concerns caused by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese Taipei became the first team to arrive here for the continental tournament.
The delay in their flight from Kochi, the Indian team’s base since its return from the tournament-cum-exposure tour of Brazil, also led to the postponement of the host nation’s scheduled media session on Thursday evening.
Looking forward to the tournament, India head coach Thomas Dennerby said, “This is the moment we’ve been preparing for over the past six months. We’ve had over 200 sessions, a number of matches against quality opponents across four countries, and now it’s time to implement all the things that we have been working on.”
The 62-year-old Swede, who had also previously coached the Swedish and the Nigerian national teams, revealed that a pep talk with the players before departure to Mumbai, has helped put everyone in the correct mindset.
“We had a small meet with the players and we explained to them how important the coming few weeks are in their lives. I think this has really struck a few chords, and you can now see the determination in their eyes,” he said.
The Indian team has been drawn against Iran (January 20), Chinese Taipei (January 23) and China (January 26) in Group A of the competition that consists of 12 teams.
It has also been learnt that all the teams playing in Pune will arrive in Mumbai and then commute to Pune by road.
“We are expecting the first team to be in Pune by 15th, which is Korea Republic. The teams (playing in Pune) will stay in two plush hotels in the city,” a source in the know of developments said.
All teams will be staying inside a strict bio bubble and everyone involved in the tournament including all players and officials will undergo regular COVID-19 tests.
“All the staff working in the hotel will also be in the bubble and will not physically interact with anyone outside the bubble. Same goes for the drivers who will be with the team and AFC. They have also been provided accommodation,” the source added.
India is hosting the continent’s highest competition for the first time since 1980 and at stake is a possible berth in the 2023 FIFA World Cup. One of the venues hosting matches is the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi on the outskirts of Pune city.

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