Wanted to show our courage: San­desh

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - Shi­larze.Sa­[email protected] times­group.com San­desh Jhin­gan

Chen­nai: The In­dian team, de­spite its con­sis­tent surge over the past few months, had shown the ten­dency of let­ting in late goals that proved calami­tous for the team. Even in their first World Cup qual­i­fier against Oman in Guwa­hati, it was the same, but on Tues­day, San­desh Jhin­gan & Co. turned things around. They fought bravely against Qatar even as the World Cup hosts kept in­creas­ing the pressure and came back with a point.

Jhin­gan, who stood firm and helped main­tain the shape of the de­fence, felt “play­ing fear­lessly” was the key in Doha. “We lit­er­ally stopped play­ing in the sec­ond half against Oman. That was some­thing we didn’t want to re­peat. I’ll put my hand up for that. It all starts from me, to play out from the back. That was the dif­fer­ence against Qatar. ‘Keep play­ing the way you are, min­imise the in­di­vid­ual er­rors, stick to the sys­tem, and just stay fo­cused’ were Sti­mac’s mo­ti­vat­ing words. We knew that what­ever the re­sult is, we’d still con­tinue to play, keep the ball. The plan was to play with­out fear, try to score and have a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. It wasn’t easy. But we man­aged to do that and cre­ated some chances as well,” Jhin­gan, who made his de­but against Nepal back in 2015, told TOI from Doha.

In­dia de­fended with heart and pas­sion and when there was the oc­ca­sional slip, goal­keeper Gur­preet Singh Sandhu stood tall. “We of­ten com­mu­ni­cated about po­ten­tial threats. We were try­ing not to give them a chance to score. If they do some­thing spec­tac­u­lar, then you can’t re­ally do much about it ex­cept to ap­pre­ci­ate it. But we wanted to show our courage. We did not just want to sit back and fight for our lives. We needed to keep our shape, stick to the ba­sics, and not com­mit mis­takes,” the Ker­ala Blasters de­fender said.

In a de­par­ture from pre­vi­ous coach Stephen Con­stan­tine’s long-ball style, In­dia have been play­ing a pos­ses­sion­based game un­der Sti­mac where the at­tack is built from the back. San­desh said In­dia could im­ple­ment the new style be­cause they have got play­ers with the right mind­set. “We are try­ing to play a dif­fer­ent brand of foot­ball. So it does get messed up at times. But you have to look at the pos­i­tives. It’s all about hav­ing the right mind­set and the courage. We’ve wanted to play it short and we have the qual­ity to do that. Hope­fully, we’ll get bet­ter in the next two games and get more points on the board. We have been in the shad­ows now for too many years. But all the play­ers be­lieve that we can make a dif­fer­ence, so that peo­ple see In­dia as foot­balling giants in the fu­ture,” he said.

ROAR OF A LION: San­desh Jhin­gan with the Tri­colour

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