The defender said that he felt grateful whenever he gets called up for the national side and will be looking to perform at the highest level.
Indian defender Sandesh Jhingan will make his long-awaited return to the national side in the match against continental champions Qatar in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Interestingly, Jhingan’s last international match was against Qatar where the Blue Tigers were lauded for a titanic defensive display to hold the Asian champions to a 0-0 draw. In a recent interview with the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Jhingan reveals the process and preparation, and how he feels that the Indian side has not performed to the best of its ability. The defender also said that he felt lucky and grateful whenever he gets called up for the national side and will be looking to perform at the highest level again.
Jhingan also said that the friendlies in Dubai were like a bittersweet experience. He said that despite not earning a win in that time, India had performed well. He especially drew attention to the Oman match which India drew with 10 debutants. “It’s a human tendency to remember and talk about the negatives. In Dubai, we drew Oman who are such a good side, that too with 10 debutants. People don’t talk about how we came back from behind to win, and had it been a little longer, we could have won,” he said. “From a player’s perspective, the mixed bag of results will stay with us all throughout our lives. That’s how life is. But you can’t sit back and mourn.”
Jhingan said that he was disappointed that India could not take part in the friendly matches ahead of the World Cup qualifiers but said that the team would not throw in the towel. “Owing to the pandemic we lost out on friendly matches in Dubai which isn’t ideal. But there are always two ways of looking at things. The easier option could have been to throw in the towel but the great squad which we have, we are there to fight,” the defender said.
The ATK Mohun Bagan defender said that he was grateful to national coach Igor Stimac for putting immense faith in him. At a press conference, Stimac addressed Jhingan as their ‘Ironman’ which they were missing. “As an individual it means a lot when you get so much confidence from your coach. Every time I have tried to improve as a player, he has always helped me. It motivates me to work hard,” Jhingan said.
Speaking about the bio-bubble, the defender said that the side was naturally not thrilled with the idea of not being able to meet their families. However, he mentioned that the call of the Indian national side superseded everything else.
“As professional players when we signed contracts, we were aware of the obstacles that could have come our way. Obviously, none could ever predict the pandemic. I am fortunate enough to have a very good life. So for me, bubble or no bubble, I get to do what I love the most, go out and play football. And I do it with a smile on my face,” he concluded.