Former captain and star striker Bala Devi returned to the Indian women’s football team after a hiatus of four years as the 22-member national squad for the upcoming Asian Games 2023 was announced in New Delhi on Friday. Bala Devi last played for India in the South Asian Games in Kathmandu in 2019. The inclusion of Bala Devi will add a definite edge to this Indian team while entering the Asian Games 2023 to be played in Hangzhou, China. Bala Devi carries with her rich experience of playing at the international level for India since 2005.
The elite striker has so far netted 36 goals for India from just 46 matches.
Bala Devi’s scoring prowess had earned her an 18-month contract with Scottish Women’s Premier League club Rangers in 2020.
She played 9 matches for Rangers and scored 2 goals, thus becoming the first Indian woman to play and score for a professional club in Europe.
Her first goal in the Scottish league came during Ranger’s 9-0 drubbing of Motherwell on December 6, 2020.
However, an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury and the surgery that followed cut short her time at Rangers, and she had to enter an extensive rehabilitation process.
Bala Devi, who has been named thrice as AIFF Women’s Player of the Year, made her much-awaited return earlier this year through a national camp organised in Chennai by head coach Thomas Dennerby.
Subsequently, Bala Devi also signed up with Odisha FC in the Indian Women’s League for a one-year contract.
In the Asian Games 2023, India are in Group B along with Chinese Taipei and Thailand.
Indian women’s football squad for Asian Games 2023: Bala Devi, Astam Oraon, Jyoti, Manisha, Renu, Ritu Rani, Sanju, Sangita Basfore, Elangbam Chanu, Dalima Chhibber, Grace Dangmei, Soumya Guguloth, Shreya Hooda, Indumathi Kathiresan, Ashalata Devi, Priyangka Devi, N Sowmiya, Sweety Devi, R Sandhiya, Ranjana Chanu, Anju Tamang, Pyari Xaxa.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)