India’s next 90 minutes against Chinese Taipei in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup will most likely decide their fate in the tournament. After drawing 0-0 against Iran, this match takes on a win-win avatar as China look far too strong to lose to any team in this group.
A loss to Chinese Taipei would certainly put India out of contention for the top two spots, with even a draw complicating matters. The goal has always been the quarter-finals, and a win for India could see them achieve that goal.
Here’s where India need to improve to secure this win:
Kamala Devi was notable for his absence from the starting line-up when the squad rosters were announced ahead of Iran. It’s something that grew as the game progressed. After the game, coach Thomas Dennerby explained his decision saying “Kamala is definitely a very good player. She came to the team a bit late, we try to find out in every game which suits where. This time, we felt we wanted more speed than we needed to fall behind.”
Anju Tamang, Ratanbala Devi and Indumathi Kathiseran organized the midfield quite well, but they lacked composure at times, which Kamala has in spades. Chinese Taipei have a very energetic midfield that won’t let them rest, so perhaps the composure brought by Kamala in the attacking spaces should be prioritised.
Dangmei Grace created 3 chances and completed 2 assists in his 35-minute cameo against Iran, while having India’s best chance of the night. Sandhiya Ranganathan, who Grace replaced, remained silent for much of the match, reluctant to move forward – while remaining in a defending position. It could be prescient to start Grace against Chinese Taipei, whose left-back Pan Shin-Yu struggled against China.
Improve the finish
India took 22 mammoth shots against Iran but only 27% of them were on target. In the absence of star striker Bala Devi, finishing could be the key area undermining India’s aspirations in the tournament.
Dennerby agrees, saying “We have to convert our chances. We were a bit slow in the last game and that gave the rival defenders time to recover and come to us. It’s the little things we have to be better.”
Pyari Xaxa had a disappointing night against Iran – although she worked hard and ran the channels, she missed a few presentable chances. Renu has faced Chinese Taipei before, having scored a goal against them in a 1-0 win last year. However, it might be hard to let Xaxa down, especially given the understanding she shares with Manisha Kalyan on the pitch.
Solve the vulnerability on the counterattack
Despite being well aware of Iran’s style of play, the Indian defense struggled to deal with Negin Zandi’s pace and work rate on the counterattack throughout the night. Although Chinese Taipei striker Yu-hsuan Su is not as fast, she can certainly hurt the central areas of the defense.
Manisha Panna and Ashalata Devi aren’t the fastest defenders, although the former impressed with her ball retention and passing against Iran, leading the team with 81% passing accuracy. The pair will face greater physical pressure against Chinese Taipei and will have to hold their ground.
Variety in attack
Sanju Yadav to Kalyan was India’s best passing combination against Iran (9), followed by Anju Tamang to Sanju (8). Clearly there is an overreliance on attack by our left wing, with 42.3% of India’s attacks on Iran going through this channel. In last year’s 1-0 win, most of India’s attacks happened behind the scenes, so perhaps Chinese Taipei coach Kazuo Echigo prepared his side for that eventuality. .
Ashalata tried a couple of long balls against Pyari Xaxa and Manisha Kalyan in the game against Iran, and India could use that tactic to good effect against Chinese Taipei. Kamala and Grace also offer different creative paths, center and bottom right, if India wants to mix things up.
Thwarting Chinese Taipei’s attacking prowess
Chinese Taipei captain Lai Li Chin and winger Chen Yen-Pin have a knack for scoring goals, and the duo shone in the qualifying campaign for this tournament. China’s control over Chinese Taipei in their first 0-4 loss was such that the pair couldn’t contribute much.
They face easier opposition against India, who might not be rushing them as well. Indumathi’s usual deep role was called off against Iran as they ceded midfield, but she may be forced to drop deeper as Chinese Taipei fill the half-spaces between the two defensive lines. India.
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