Bhubaneswar, Feb 1 (PTI) The Indian women’s football team faces Iran in their opening match of the inaugural Hero Gold Cup international tournament at the Kalinga Stadium here on February 9.

The four-nation tournament, the first such competition in India for the senior women’s team, is being organised by the All India Football Federation association with the Odisha government.

Along with India and Iran, the tournament will also feature Myanmar and Nepal.

The tournament will be played in a round-robin format with the two top teams playing in the final on February 15.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said the the primary objective of the tournament was to provide the best of exposure to the women’s team as they prepare for the second round of the Olympic Qualifiers in April.

“The Hero Gold Cup is meant to provide additional opportunity for the Indian women’s national team to face other powerful teams in a competitive format,” Das said.

“While our team has been playing in friendlies overseas, we feel hosting such a competition will boost the growing popularity of women’s football in India. Football followers in India deserve a chance to witness our national teams in action,” Das added.

Myanmar is ranked 44 in the FIFA Women’s Ranking, followed by Iran on 60, and Nepal on 108. India is ranked 62.

In November last year, India qualified for the second round of the AFC Olympic Qualifiers for the first time.

“It was a pleasure that AIFF came forward with the proposal for the Women’s Gold Cup. Odisha’s commitment towards sports, and especially promotion of women’s football is well-known. Kalinga Stadium stands ready to welcome the women’s teams for the 4-nation Gold Cup,” Sports Commissioner-cum-Secretary of Odisha government Vishal Kumar Dev said.

Schedule:

February 9: Myanmar vs Nepal (4pm); India vs Iran (7pm).

February 11: Myanmar vs Iran (4pm); India vs Nepal (7pm).

February 13: Iran vs Nepal (4pm); India vs Myanmar (7pm).

February 15: Final.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.