India can top group in AFC U-19 Women's Championship qualifiers, says captain Vanlahriattiri

New Delhi: Indian women's football captain Vanlahriattiri feels her side has the potential to top the group after they thrashed Pakistan in their opening match of the AFC U-19 Women's Championship qualifiers.

India began their qualification campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan with an 18-0 win on Wednesday.

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File image of Vanlahriattiri. Image courtesy: Twitter @IndianFootball

"We have Pakistan, Nepal, and Thailand in our group. I think we are in a good position, compared to these teams, and can get the desired results. I wouldn't be surprised if we manage to top our group," Vanlahriattiri told

India will take on Nepal on Friday followed by hosts Thailand on 28 October.

A native of Mizoram, Vanlahriattiri will look to play an important role in the team. Being an out-and-out midfielder herself, "B", as she is popularly known within the dressing room, idolises Liverpool and England legend Steven Gerrard.

Much like the other girls in the team, she also had to play alongside boys, when she was a kid, as her village did not have any team for girls.

"Back then we did not have any girls' teams in our locality, playing against boys helped me develop my game in the early stages, and I was soon called up for the Sub-Junior Girls National Championship in 2015," Vanlahriattiri said.

"I performed well in that tournament, and soon after, the national team came calling," she said.

While she had a smooth rise to the junior national team, it was not the same once she made it to the top.

"Of course, it's a dream come true, to play for the country. But adjusting to the new dressing room was a bit difficult at first. The biggest problem that I faced back then was that of the language," she said.

"It gets really difficult if you cannot understand what your coach and teammates are telling you, especially on the pitch, and especially if you are a midfielder. But I put my head down and worked my way through those difficult times," Vanlahriattiri said.

"Now we all understand each other. We are like a family," she added.

India produced a good show in the SAFF U-18 Women's Championship earlier this month. They ended the tournament with a bronze medal. Now, however, they will have a sterner test as they look to qualify for the continental competition.

Updated Date: Oct 25, 2018 21:59:56 IST