In a momentous announcement that has ignited excitement among football enthusiasts across the nation, the Indian women’s football team revealed their 22-member squad for the highly anticipated Asian Games 2023. The news was unveiled in New Delhi on Friday, marking a significant day for women’s football in India. The standout inclusion in the roster is none other than the talismanic Bala Devi, making her return to the national squad after a four-year hiatus.
Bala Devi’s illustrious journey in the Indian football landscape has been studded with achievements and milestones. Her last appearance in the Indian jersey dates back to the South Asian Games in Kathmandu in 2019, and her reappearance is expected to inject a renewed vigor into the team’s pursuit of glory in the Asian Games scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China.
Devi’s comeback resonates with the wealth of experience she carries, having represented India on the international stage since 2005. The elite striker’s scoring prowess is undeniable, with an impressive tally of 36 goals from just 46 matches. Notably, her extraordinary skills earned her an 18-month contract with the Scottish Women’s Premier League club Rangers in 2020.
During her stint with Rangers, Bala Devi etched her name in history by becoming the first Indian woman to both play and score for a professional European club. Her maiden goal in the Scottish league came during Rangers’ resounding 9-0 victory over Motherwell on December 6, 2020.
Unfortunately, her time with Rangers was cut short due to an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury that led to surgery. However, Devi’s resilience shone as she embarked on an extensive rehabilitation process.
The three-time AIFF Women’s Player of the Year embarked on her much-anticipated return through a national camp organized in Chennai under the guidance of head coach Thomas Dennerby. Subsequently, she inked a contract with Odisha FC in the Indian Women’s League, further displaying her commitment to the sport and her nation.
In the upcoming Asian Games 2023, India finds itself placed in Group B, alongside Chinese Taipei and Thailand. With the inclusion of Bala Devi, the Indian women’s football team is poised to face the challenges with renewed determination and skill.
The complete Indian women’s football squad for Asian Games 2023 consists of:
- Bala Devi
- Astam Oraon
- Ritu Rani
- Sangita Basfore
- Elangbam Chanu
- Dalima Chhibber
- Grace Dangmei
- Soumya Guguloth
- Shreya Hooda
- Indumathi Kathiresan
- Ashalata Devi
- Priyangka Devi
- N Sowmiya
- Sweety Dev
- R Sandhiya
- Ranjana Chanu
- Anju Tamang
- Pyari Xaxa
As the Asian Games draw closer, the return of Bala Devi casts a bright spotlight on the Indian women’s football team, igniting hopes and aspirations for a remarkable performance on the grand stage.