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Friday, September 24, 2021

‘Tough for injured Bala Devi to make it to Indian team’

PANAJI: India’s top striker Bala Devi is unlikely to regain full fitness and make it to the squad for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 at home, coach Thomas Dennerby said on Saturday.
The country’s biggest name in women’s football became the first Indian woman to earn a professional football contract abroad when she joined Rangers FC in February last year. She extended her contract with the club and returned home in July to recover from an injury.
“From what I have heard, Bala has an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury and she is not with us because of that,” Dennerby told reporters during an online media interaction.
“She will do her surgery very soon I guess, if she hasn’t already done. But this is September and ACL injury normally takes a couple of months. For her, it’s really a tough situation to be ready for Asian Cup.”
Sources said the 31-year old striker had surgery for ACL earlier this month.
If the experienced Bala misses out, it will be a big blow to the team’s chances in the tournament being played at home. The former India captain has 42 goals in 47 international games.
The 2022 edition of the Women’s Asian Cup will be played with 12 teams for the first time, four more than the last four editions.
The DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri and Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune, will host all games from January 20 to February 6, 2022.

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