Dubai [UAE], June 1 (ANI): Sandesh Jhingan's return to the World Cup qualifiers is more than an assurance for everyone. The leader in Sandesh had missed the last three matches of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers owing to an unfortunate injury.
However, he has now returned from injury and he would be looking to leave a mark for the national team. India's senior football team will next be seen in action in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers, slated to be played from June 3 onwards.
"It's a relief. I am happy that I have been able to get back after the injury lay-off. A man's greatest honour is to represent his country. In that sense, I am lucky, grateful and thankful whenever I get a call-up. We can never take things for granted. The team needs to stay focussed on the job at hand. It hasn't gone the way it should have," the official website of All India Football Federation (AIFF) quoted Jhingan as saying.
"I will be the first one to raise my hand and say that we haven't been able to play to our potential. It's not gone the way we all would have wanted it to go -- especially after such a promising start. We need to be brave enough, raise our hand and take the blame for it. I reiterate, we haven't played to our potential," he added.
India is scheduled to play Asian Champions Qatar on June 3, Bangladesh on June 7, and Afghanistan on June 15 with all three matches to be played at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha.
"Anyone who understands football will know the importance of a proper preparatory camp, and how important a friendly match is in preparation for a major tournament. 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," said Jhingan.
"No one remembers and will ever make an effort to get into the depth of the preparatory process. Everyone just remembers the result -- it is as simple as that. If you are a part of the system you will try your best to get the best for the team. But there are also certain aspects which are not in your hands. So every human being is a bit helpless in that regard," he added.
When asked about the impact of head coach Igor Stimac, Jhingan said: "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. But it also hurts me that I couldn't play a part. Not that I could have changed the score line as the others who replaced me are equally capable. But what lies ahead is more significant."
"Also, what most people aren't aware of is that Stimac is a very kind human being. I will always remember his gesture when he flew in from Delhi to Mumbai, drove almost two hours to see me at the hospital post my surgery to wish me fast recovery," he added. (ANI)