India women's football coach Maymol Rocky on Saturday expressed her happiness after India was announced as the host of the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 finals, stating that the tournament will provide a further boost to the sport in the country.
Her remark comes as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) granted All India Football Federation (AIFF) the rights to host the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 final. The decision was taken at the AFC Women's Football Committee.
"I am very excited that a tournament of this magnitude will take place in India and I thank the AIFF for bringing the Asian Cup to our country. We have one-and-a-half years to prepare for it and I am sure that we will put on a good show. I hope people will come out to support the team and the girls will do the rest," the official website of AIFF quoted Rocky as saying.
The Indian side is currently ranked 55 in the world, having won the gold medal in their most recent outing at the South Asian Games 2019 in Nepal and recording draws in friendly games away to Uzbekistan and Vietnam - both of whom are ranked higher.
"People are getting more and more aware of the progress made in women's football in India. The girls will get the opportunity to play against the top countries in Asia and fans will get to see the best teams such as Japan, Australia, Korea and China live in the stadium, which will go a long way to develop an interest in football among young girls and parents," Rocky said.
"I am confident that some players from the U-17 team will make their way in the senior team when the AFC Asian Women's Cup comes around. The AIFF has been working really hard on this team for over a year now and with this tournament (AFC Asian Women's Cup) also scheduled for 2022, it will certainly be an incentive for the youngsters to look up to after the World Cup," she added.
Indian skipper Ashalata Devi, who was among the three nominees for the AFC Women's Player of the Year 2019 also said that getting to play in the AFC Women's Asian Cup will be a 'dream come true'.
"It was a dream to play in the AFC Asian Cup and now that we are hosting it, I am very happy and excited. I would like to thank the AIFF and Women's Committee as they made a lot of efforts to bring the tournament to India. It is a huge step for us and the entire continent's eyes will be on us," Devi said.
Goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan expressed her delight at the 'amazing opportunity' and termed it as a 'huge responsibility' at the same time.
"It is an amazing opportunity for us to prove and show our supporters why they should believe us when we say women's team has the potential to play at the top level. There is now a huge responsibility for us to put forward the image that we want our supporters to have of women's football," Chauhan said.
The tournament comes as the latest feather to AIFF's cap under Patel's tenure as AIFF president. India will host the premier tournament for the second time after staging it in Kozhikode in 1980.
While India is slated to host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2020 from February 17-March 7, 2021, the AIFF had earlier successfully orgsed the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 in 2017. Furthermore, India had also hosted the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016.
( With inputs from ANI )