Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], July 5 (ANI): As India will be hosting the Women's Asian Cup 2022, striker Bala Devi believes that it will be a 'big test' for the team to play among the top Asian sides.
India will host the premier tournament for the second time after staging it in Kozhikode in 1980.
"To be honest, we do not know what level all the teams are at. We are improving but only when we play countries in the top 25 of the rankings will we know if there is any chance of us matching them. The Women's Asian Cup will be a big test for us, and we hope we can prepare for that together," Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) official website quoted Bala as saying.
Bala feels that the Indian team can hit the top-10 rankings in Asia as many leagues and tournaments have been introduced to lift the women's football in the country.
India is slated to host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2020 from February 17 to March 7, 2021. Bala said the junior tournament will have a huge fillip and will attract eyeballs towards women's football.
"(The U-17 Women's World Cup) will draw a lot of eyeballs towards women's football. The tournament will be widely televised and with India hosting it, many will come to the stadiums, for sure. That would be a huge fillip and that would be followed by India hosting the 2022 Women's Asian Cup," the striker said.
"We are slowly gathering a lot of interest and hopefully we will now consistently hit the top 10 rankings of Asia, which I think is possible. The situation is fast changing - the Indian Women's League is having its impact, the U-17 World Cup will have its impact, and the 2022 Asian Cup will impact everyone for sure," she said.
India has significant ground to make up to be among the 32 teams for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand. Bala said it will be an 'ultimate dream' to play in the World Cup as it would encourage more girls to take up the sports.
"(Qualifying for 2023) would be a huge boost. For the men's or the women's team to qualify for the senior World Cup is the ultimate dream for everyone involved in football and all the fans of football in the country. It would be huge for the league, for the future generations and for many more girls to take up football," Bala said. (ANI)