Maharastra Portal

Sandesh Jhingan on the AFC Asian Cup: “Time To Work With More Intensity, Passion”

<p>When play begins in Doha, Qatar on January 13, India will compete in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup for the fifth time in its history. The previous four editions of the competition were held in 1964, 1984, 2011, and 2019. Although the inaugural Asian Cup, which was a round-robin competition that saw India finish second behind Israel, is still the country’s most successful experience, the Blue Tigers have never advanced beyond the group stage, according to a news release from the All India Football Federation (AIFF).</p>
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<p>However, a large number of the current team has the advantage of having participated in numerous Asian Cups—something that India had not previously had access to. Eight members of the current team have already experienced the thrill of the Asian Cup final stages, while Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sunil Chhetri, two players on opposing sides of the field, have participated in the continental showcase three times.</p>
<p>An eighteen-year-old Gurpreet was watching from the sidelines, taking it all in, while the 2011 edition was recalled for former India captain Subrata Paul’s outstanding performance between the sticks against a formidable Australia team.</p>
<p>It was an incredible pleasure to observe legendary athletes like Subrata Paul, Bhaichung Bhutia, Renedy Singh, and others at the pinnacle of their careers while sharing the changing room with them. I used to really like working out,” Gurpreet told</p>
<p>“As a young, lanky, thin keeper, I would be kicked about a lot. But both on and off the field, I was learning like a sponge. As one of the team’s senior members today, I merely impart the expertise I’ve learned over the years,” he said.</p>
<p>The 31-year-old thinks that with the 2011 Asian Cup, the Indian squad started to change, which is why there are many experienced players in the 2023 edition.</p>
<p>Over time, there has been a significant change. After 2011, we had new players join since several of the players were close to concluding their careers. Many of the lads have already participated in an Asian Cup previously; Sandesh (Jhingan), Subha (Subhasish Bose), and Anirudh Thapa are all returning to the competition and will be competing in their second edition, according to Gurpreet.</p>
<p>The best goalie in India commented, “Over the years, this has grown to be a knowledgeable and experienced lot in terms of footballing aptitude, albeit a hungrier side.”</p>
<p>It may just take the Blue Tigers goalie showing up with the correct attitude to succeed. “Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it’s important to convey our true intentions. I had no idea how crucial it may be to demonstrate purpose in the previous two Asian Cups as a player. I believe I have the right experience now to come with that purpose and have it rub off on the others. In 2011, when I was only 18 and was fortunate enough to even be in the side, and in 2019, I was playing at that level for the first time,” the man said.</p>
<p>For more than ten years, centreback Sandesh Jhingan has been a vital member of the Indian defense. The 30-year-old has been instrumental in India’s efforts to qualify for the 2023 and 2019 tournaments. The defender believes that the Blue Tigers should no longer be celebrating their qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup, however, because of where they are at in the process.</p>
<p>“Gurpreet, Amrinder Singh, and I all dreamed of seeing India play in the World Cup when we were first called up to the national team.” Being a regular at the Asian Cup is undoubtedly a step closer to that goal, even if it may still be far off,” Jhingan said.</p>
<p>“I feel we are now at a stage where qualification to the Asian Cup should be normal and that we should not celebrate it.”</p>
<p>Rather, we need to be anticipating moving on to the next phase, which entails qualifying beyond the group stage. Playing in consecutive Asian Cups is undoubtedly satisfying, but at this point, it’s time to work harder and with more desire,” he said.</p>
<p>The centerback for the Blue Tigers vividly recalls the 2019 Asian Cup, in which India defeated Thailand in the first match before losing to the hosts UAE and Bahrain to be eliminated.</p>
<p>“I believe we might have performed better against the UAE, but everyone is talking about the Bahrain game. It would have been best if we had taken a risk on them. The margin for error is quite narrow at this point, and even the tiniest errors may have serious consequences,” he said.</p>
<p>Similar to Jhingan, fullback Subhasish Bose said that the Blue Tigers’ next objective is to try to go beyond the group stage despite any obstacles.</p>
<p>“We played well enough to win the first game against Thailand in 2019, but we fell short in the next two.” We have a tough task ahead of us this time, but we should aim to get to the knockout stage. We want to show on the field that we are still a better squad than we were a few years ago,” he said.</p>

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