Tag: Sandesh Jhingan

ISL 4: Vineeth spares Blasters the blushes with late equaliser

Chennai: Sandesh Jhingan went from zero to hero as he set up CK Vineeth’s 94th minute equaliser with a sharp cross, minutes after he conceded a debatable penalty to allow Rene Mihelic to give Chennaiyin the lead in their Indian Super League match at the Marina Arena in Chennai on Friday. The match ended 1-1.

The referee pointed to the spot in the 87th minute after the ball seemed to hit Jhingan near his underarm as he blocked a shot from close range. Mihelic made no mistake, arranging the ball to the Paul Rachubka’s right after a tiny stutter in his run-up.

Until the deadlock was broken, the Blasters had probably gone closest in the second half when Courage Pekuson turned his man and made space for himself to take a stinging shot which Karanjit Singh expertly palmed away. Rachubka had to make a save of his own at the other end from Gregory Nelson’s shot. The save was fitting as it came shortly after he tripped in front of Jeje Lalpekhlua, almost allowing the striker to score. But Jeje stuck a leg out and a foul was given, saving Rachubka’s blushes.

It was almost disaster for Chennaiyin soon after the second half started when Lalruatthara’s cross deflected off Mailson Alves’ head and almost beat his own keeper. But minutes later they created a chance, with Anirudh Thapa, Lalpekhlua and Raphael Augusto combining to set up Francis Fernandes who should have done better than to shoot straight at the keeper.

It was a first half of few chances as Kerala Blasters mostly played on the counter and Chennaiyin in their quick attacking style, with a lot of dominance in the final third. They had 60% of the ball in the opening 45 minutes, but the best chance of the half fell to Jackichand Singh. It was a blistering counter-attack which saw CK Vineeth release Courage Pekuson. With defenders chasing these two attackers, Jackichand was left all alone on the right win. Pekuson found him and the Indian’s first touch set him up for a shot which skewed off the outside of his boot and flew into the stands.

Chennaiyin had a few opportunities as well. The first one came as early as the third minute but Jude Nworuh was adjudged offside despite being in line. That said, he would be glad to see the flag go up, considering his first time attempt from a tight angle was largely forgettable. Some flying tackles and these half chances apart, both teams were bracing for a more open second half.

The result keeps Chennaiyin in first spot. They have 13 points from seven games. That’s point more than FC Goa (who have two games in hand) and Bengaluru FC. Blasters remain in seventh place with seven points from six matches.

ISL 4: Different goals for Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City

Kochi: After two successive draws, Kerala Blasters FC will hope they are third time lucky at home as they face Mumbai City FC in a Hero Indian Super League clash at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Sunday.

Kerala Blasters are one of just three teams to not have registered a win in the fourth season of ISL, and will face a side which is fresh from a Maharashtra derby defeat. Mumbai City FC will play the Blasters on the back of a narrow 1-2 defeat against FC Pune City, but will take heart from the fact that their opponents have not even scored a goal in two games yet.

What faces them though, is not just the prospect of last year’s finalists, but also the incredible atmosphere in Kochi.

Kerala Blasters have already hosted Jamshedpur FC and ATK at home, and will want to notch a win before they travel to Goa for their first away match of the season on December 9.

The Yellow Army’s coach hinted that former Manchester United defender Wes Brown will be eased into the side rather than start a game due to the fine form of centre-back pairing Sandesh Jhingan and Nemanja Lakic-Pesic. He also said that not just the fans, but everyone who was part of the team was wondering who will score the first Blasters goal this season.

“The first thing is to not let the issue get bigger than it is. We are still in the process of developing as a side. We were better in the second game than the first and we are keeping clean sheets. We kept the ball better, there was penetration and cutting edge and we created chances, but we know the most important goal to score in any season is the first one. It will bring confidence to the team and create a different sort of flow. We keep focussing that the players understand what we need to do next. To win a match, we need to score goals,” head coach Rene Meulensteen said.

Mumbai City’s head coach Alexandre Guimaraes has a tough task on hand to negotiate three of their first four matches which are being played away at the start of the season.

“We have to handle this and our aim now is to recover from the tough game against Pune. The players will give everything they have to fight for the three points and then have time in Mumbai where we play two games at home,” he said.

Kerala are baying for a win and growing in confidence over the last two games, and Guimaraes’ side will have to be at their best to handle their counter-attacking prowess. It’ll be a cracker of a match between a side that reached the finals last season against one which ended on top of the table under the same manager.

It’s like a group of brothers playing together: Jhingan

NEW DELHI: Perhaps none knows that Sandesh Jhingan cried as a 17-year old when India lost to Bahrain in the Doha 2011 Asian Cup.In a freewheeling interview, Jhingan travels down memory lane to the day while speaking about his love for the National Team, his self-assessment as a player, the aim at the AFC Asian Cup 2019, defending as a Team, the ‘special back-four’ and much more. EXCERPTS:

Personally, what does qualification to the Asian Cup mean to you?

It’s a big achievement for the Country as it’s a continuous process of growth of Indian Football after the last qualification in Doha 2011. Our priority from now on is to improve and try to dominate in Asia as the Asian Cup provides us with the chance to play the bigger teams. To improve we need to learn the dominance and there is still a lot of work to be done for that.

Did you follow the Doha 2011 Asian Cup?

The last time India played in Doha (in 2011), I was a 17-year old boy and remember crying after our loss to Bahrain — a match which I felt we could have won. It was an emotional moment for a boy who was in love with the National Team and the other day in Bengaluru, it was a special moment when we qualified.

What next?

The job is not done yet. This is the first step which we have achieved because we will travel to UAE not just to participate. Rather, we need to make it to the next round for which, I reiterate, we need to work harder.

What do you attribute the unbeaten streak of the National Team to?

The biggest character of this team stays that we never give up. If you look back, we had a bad run initially but since then we have been able to turn around and it has to be attributed to the mental strength of the team.The unity in the squad is commendable, it’s like a group of brothers playing football together. That’s the understanding which we have and it’s very vital for us.

Within 2 years of making your international debut, you have earned the title of ‘Mr. Dependable.’ How much have you improved as a player?

(Smiles). The fans have been a huge support and I need to thank them for that.

But I feel it’s still a long way for me to improve as a player. I still need to work harder. Obviously, I have improved my fitness immensely and whether I have improved as a player, maybe the Coach and the others can comment. All I know is that the road is long.

The defensive back four has played a major role in taking India to this level.

I think it’s not just about the back four. If you look at the match against the Kyrgyzstan, there was a moment when Eugeneson Lyngdoh tackled in our own box which otherwise could have enabled them to score. We also have Halicharan Narzary running up and down the flanks in every match to help our side-backs.

Actually, it’s collective work with one covering up for the other. The whole team does that, so it’s not right to solely credit the back four for the defending.

What’s special about the four?

It’s the blind trust which we have amongst ourselves. Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das and I have been playing together since our U-23 days and it’s been quite a long time. Inadvertently the understanding has grown over the years, but for example, in a match, I ask anyone of the back four to turn, he will do it instantly without even thinking and I will reciprocate in the same manner if they tell me too.

Players need to utilise opportunity to cement place in squad: Chhetri

NEW DELHI: ‘Talismanic’ Captain Sunil Chhetri feels the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will help in understanding “where we lie as players and areas we need to improve.” As the Senior National Team prepares in Mumbai for India’s forthcoming AFC Asian Cup Qualifier against Myanmar slated for November 14, Chhetri, the highest Indian goal scorer in International Football with 55 goals spoke at length about future megastars of Indian Football, the last two years with Indian Football, the road forward and even his “regrets.” EXCERPTS:

You have played a major role in qualification to two AFC Asian Cups for India. Where do you rate it in your illustrious career?

It will be among the highest achievements. The memories of Doha 2011 will stay with me forever. It’s the top-most tournament in Asia and qualification was not just on my priority list, but for the entire squad. But I do have regrets too.


(Takes a deep breath) The last time when we couldn’t qualify for the 2015 edition which was held in Australia. I was really very sad. The regrets of not qualifying still linger and if anybody is to be blamed, it had to be us — the players.

What will the 2019 edition of the AFC Asian Cup provide for Indian Football?

It will help us in gauging ourselves as to where we lie as players and the areas we need to improve. That’s of paramount importance as Indian Football moves forward. The movement forward needs to be a continuous process and the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will allow us to rub shoulders with the best in Asia.

There has been the arrival of a new breed of players in the National Team like Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Sandesh Jhingan, Udanta Singh amongst others. Are they the next megastars of Indian Football?

I really hope so. I will always put my money on them. In fact, I will be very disappointed if the trio doesn’t dominate Indian Football for the next decade. I also hope they get tough competition, with the U-17 and the U-16 squads pushing them further. Those batches are doing well for us too.

The present team is a new set playing together for 2 years now. What do they need to better themselves as players?

Maybe the Coach and the respective players can answer it better as to how they can improve as players.

But yeah, the players need to improve and that has always been my mentality. There is a lot of potentials which stays unachieved and if isn’t attained, it’s Indian Football’s loss.

For an outside point of view, I hope the players utilise their opportunity to cement their place in the squad. At the same time, there always needs to be a healthy competition from the bench to take the places in the starting XI. The process will only help Indian Football to get further stability.

Which has been your most satisfying moment in the last two years with the National Team?

It may sound weird but the triumph in the SAFF Cup was very significant. We were severely hit by injuries and missed a lot of seasoned pros. Winning with newcomers was indeed satisfying. Moreover, it was all about the rivalry with Afghanistan and had they won it, they would have taken the title forever.

In addition, the victory against the Kyrgyzstan in Bengaluru was special too. They are a very good side and we had to dig deep. I have since watched the match many times and feel proud every time about the manner it was achieved.

We’ll have to be on our toes to win the tie: Constantine

MUMBAI,23rd August 2017: Sitting pretty on the summit of a record 9 consecutive International victories (including the unofficial match against Bhutan), National Coach Stephen Constantine prefers to “start afresh” tomorrow (August 24, 2017) against St. Kitts and Nevis at the Mumbai Football Arena.

“We have to start afresh and we’re ready to do so.  We’re in a good shape and looking to finish off the job ina positive note,” Constantine mentioned in the pre-match press conference. “We were slow starters against Mauritius and we cannot afford to do that in every match.”

Captain Sandesh Jhingan, sitting next informed that the “half-time talk” during the last match did the trick. “The Coach insisted on the areas where we need to focus on. We worked on it and got the results,” Jhingan stated.

Constantine showed utmost respect for his counterpart as well who have salvaged a 1-1 draw against Mauritius (August 22, 2017).

“They have the potential and they proved it yesterday. Coming back from a one-goal deficit is not very easy but they did it. We have to be at our very best,” Constantine mentioned. “They are very dangerous on the counter attack.”

Jhingan said that he’s enjoying the role very much and the armband is really what entrusts him with the extra responsibility.

“Representing the National Team itself is an honour. This armband is a bonus and it has come to me with a great responsibility. Sunil Bhai is our real leader but until he’s not there, I’m enjoying the role,” Sandesh exuded.

Meanwhile, on being asked whether some star players’ absence in the St. Kitts & Nevis side would help to set up strategy, Constantine felt otherwise.

“I feel it’s the opposite. The other guys who have come would push their limits to prove their worth and therein lies the danger for us. We’ve to be on our toes to win,” Stephen declared.

Lauding the “mental strength of the squad,” Jhingan pronounced: “Yeah, we did concede early in the last match. But we did not panic. Conceding is a part of Football but we knew we could come back strongly and we eventually got the three points.”

Sandesh should be playing in bigger league says Constantine


MUMBAI: As India gear up for the second match in the International tri-series against St Kitts and Nevis to be played at the Mumbai Football Arena on August 24, Coach Stephen Constantine lavished huge praise on the newly-appointed captain Sandesh Jhingan.

“The captain has to reflect the character of the team. He has to set the tone of the team. Sandesh is a fighter like me who loves to lead the side from the front,” Constantine said.

Jhingan, who leads the crop of the new breed of Indian Footballers had made his debut for India against Nepal, which was Constantine’s first match as a Coach in his second stint.

“Sandesh to me a player who should be playing is a bigger league,” Constantine certified.

The defender par excellence, wasn’t too much willing to be over the moon. “Playing for your Country is itself a great honour and here I am, leading my Country,” he stated.

Jhingan has played a stellar role in the Indian back-four along with Anas Etathodika, Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das and Gurpreet Sandhu (in goal) in helping India create a new record for Indian Football in winning nine International matches (including the un-official match against Bhutan).

Constantine further went to say that Sandesh is a one of the ‘leaders for the future.’

“In coming days, at least we can identify Sandesh as a leader once Sunil hangs his boots,” he maintained.

Meanwhile, Chhetri, along with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Udanta Singh will be joining the National Camp after Bengaluru FC’s AFC Cup stint.

India have won two of their two matches in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers against Myanmar (away) and Kyrgyzstan (at home) and will face Macau on September 5 (in Macau).