In big blow for In­dia, Jhin­gan out for 6 months

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - Mar­cus.Mer­gul­hao @times­

Panaji: In­dia will be with­out their best de­fender for at least the next four World Cup 2022 qual­i­fiers af­ter San­desh Jhin­gan suf­fered a tear of his ACL that will keep him out for a long time.

Coach Igor Sti­mac has been forced to look at al­ter­na­tives af­ter the de­fender picked up an in­jury dur­ing the friendly against North­East United FC in Guwa­hati on Wed­nes­day and MRI tests a day later showed that he needs surgery. The Ker­ala Blasters FC de­fender could be out for as many as six months and will miss World Cup qual­i­fy­ing matches against Bangladesh (October 15), Afghanista­n (Novem­ber 14), Oman (Novem­ber 19) and pos­si­bly even Qatar (March 26).

“In­juries have been fol­low­ing us. This is a big blow. If I wanted to pick one player who needs to get in­jured, he would be the last. He is a leader at the back,” Sti­mac told TOI late on Thurs­day. In­dia were with­out in­jured Amar­jit Singh for the open­ing clash against Oman and Su­nil Ch­hetri against Qatar.

In­dia play Bangladesh in a World Cup qual­i­fier in Kolkata on October 15 and Sti­mac will have to find a re­place­ment at the ear­li­est. With Jhin­gan ruled out, Anas Edathodika – who came out of in­ter­na­tional re­tire­ment -- is the most ex­pe­ri­enced op­tion, some­thing the Croa­t­ian coach might con­sider.

Mean­while, Bangladesh lost 0-2 against Qatar in a World Cup qual­i­fier at home on a ter­ri­ble pitch. Should In­dia get the bet­ter of the vis­i­tors next week, they will move to the third spot in group E be­hind Qatar (7 points) and Oman (6 points).

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