Know Your Indian Stars – Sandesh Jhingan

Sandesh Jhingan

Hailing from Chandigarh, Sandesh Jhingan started training for professional football at St Stephens football academy as a 17-year-old and went on to excel and rise above the ranks. His solid performances earned him a call-up to the state team and thus he represented the u-19 Chandigarh team.  In 2011, he received a call-up to represent then second division I-league side United Sikkim where he excelled and played a major part in helping them reaching promotion into the I-league. The team weren’t able to cope with the league and got relegated the following season. Jhingan was seen as a bright young prospect and also received offers from Chinese leagues for a trial but wasn’t able to go as he was drafted into the Indian football team.  

Jhingan was first called up to the national side to 2013 but didn’t feature due to an injury he sustained during their preparatory camp. In 2014, he was drafted into the under 23 squads for the Asian games and didn’t have a good debut match where he gave away an own goal in 5-0 loss to UAE.

His rise to prominence started when he was signed by the Kerala Blasters in the inaugural season of the Indian Super League where he was not only judged the best emerging player but also received the silver medal as they lost the final. He never stopped growing since then, and the once emerging player was transformed into a versatile defender who was rock solid at the back. His defensive abilities are second to none in the current footballing scenario in the country and he deserves every bit of praise that he gets. 

He is an integral part of the National team with his leadership abilities at the back and also his ability to pop up with goals in crunch situations. His aerial prowess is unquestionable and his ability to read game situations is one worth mentioning. He captained the Kerala Blasters this year and also became the first player to notch up 50 games for club at the Indian Super League, he was on many occasions handed the captaincy of the Country as well in the absence of Sunil Chettri and looks like the one who would take over the reigns once the great man retires.  

Sandesh has truly grown into being one of the pillars on which Indian football continues to rise and with age and maturity, the only way is up for the towering defender.

Intercontinental Cup: Top 5 Moments

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu Sunil Chettri

Rock solid defence:

One of the first things that you would notice in the Intercontinental cup victory was the excellent performance of the back line.  Led by Sandesh Jhingan, the defence stood tall and not only pulled off some breath-taking tackles, but also co-ordinated with one another brilliantly. As they say, all good defences are built on trust and the centre back pairing of Anas and Jhingan play to each other’s strengths and complement one another brilliantly. Subhashish and Pritam Kotal managed to find the balance between attack and defence which was key to each of their stellar performances.  The defence was supported by the Udanta and Narzary on either wing, who would always track back to help the defence out of tight situations. They say attack wins you matches, but defence wins you titles and the Indian performance is a testament to that statement.

 

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu:

It’s not often that you have a 6’foot 4 goalkeeper with cat-like reflexes. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu seems to have hit the right cords and was in exceptional form this tournament. When you don’t concede a single goal through the entirety of the tournament, you know you’re doing something right. When you have a man in such post for your team between the sticks, it gives you immense confidence as a defender to play your game knowing that you have him behind you to save you of your blushes. The experience he has got in Europe really seems to be rubbing off on him and also on his teammates and it only shows how vital European experience can be on young players.

 

The Jeje-Sunil connect:

Just like Anas and Jhingan in defence, the strike partnership of Jeje and Sunil also seems to hunt in pairs. They look like they have a telepathic communication, the way they play their passes and always seem to find one another on the pitch. The sight of Jeje setting up the shot for Sunil with his excellent hold-up play has become so common that every time Jeje receives the ball, you anticipate it’s going to be Sunil putting it in the back of the net.

 

The Rise of Anirudh Thapa:

The 20-year-old youngster seems to have grown so much as a player the past year. From the under 21 national side he got picked up by Chennaiyan FC where he started most games and with the increase in game time, came maturity and game awareness. He played like he’s been in these situations a million times and when you play in the position of a man called Eugenson Lyndoh, it is really difficult to do well considering the standards he has set in the past. This young man has walked in and made the central midfield role his own.

 

Sunil Chettri: The Man, The Myth, The Legend.

He promised, and he delivered. The man scored 8 goals in the competition, his highest in any tournament. He also scored a hattrick in National colors after 8 long years. The highlight of this competition was hi sending an emotional message to the fans on social media asking them to turn up in numbers and back the blue. The captain says and they listen. The crowd turned up in huge numbers and boy did they get a treat. The man lived up to his name and showed the fans how important their support is to the team. The rise of Indian football has just begun, with this legend leading the way.

Know Your Players: 5 Most Valuable Indian Footballers

Sandesh Jhingan Gurpreet Singh Sandhu Udanta Singh Jeje Lalpekhlua Sunil Chhetri

As the sturdy rise of Indian football continues, we look at 5 players who are most valuable to the sport in the country.

Sandesh Jhingan – Defender:

Sandesh Jhingan has played a huge role in the rise of the national team. Leading the line in defence, he’s become one of the most important players in the team, since making his senior debut in a World Cup qualifier this year against Nepal and has been a mainstay ever since. He came into prominence playing for the Kerala Blasters where he had two stellar seasons that earned him the National call-up. He now leads the men from Kerala. He has been earning acclaim over the past two seasons for not only his extraordinary defending but also for his leadership abilities. He also has a knack of scoring important goals at the most crucial situations, his stronghold performances at the back have caused his opponents to fear the beard.

 

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu – Goalkeeper:

It was almost four years back that news broke about a young goalkeeper from East Bengal had signed a three-year deal with a Norwegian club Stabaek and became only the fifth Indian player to receive a contract from a European club. His lack of game time led him to sign with Indian giants Bengaluru FC and the man is known as the wall of India really came into his own. He’s now the mainstay in the Indian team and because of his vital experience in Europe, the Indian coach Stephen Constantine hasn’t hesitated to hand him the armband in the absence of skipper Sunil Chettri.

  

 Udanta Singh – Midfielder / Winger:

It was the year 2014 when Bengaluru FC played the TATA Football Academy in a friendly. Nine minutes into the game Mandar Tamhane, the Chief Technical Officer of the club receives a call from then manager Ashley Westwood who was on the touchline saying “we need to sign him”. Westwood could see great things from the Pacey youngster of the TATA Football Academy, thus began the rise of Udanta Singh. Over the years at the club, under the guidance of Skipper Sunil Chettri, he’s become a more rounded player and has learned to use his pace and skill efficiently. Four years on, he’s the next big thing in Indian Football and at the age of 21, he is already a mainstay in a team making history.

 

Jeje Lalpekhlua – Forward:

The ace striker has been a key player for the Blue Tigers for quite a while now. His combination with the main man Chettri up front has led to a lot of goals for the country. He has been a key player for his club as well, playing an important role in two of the championships his club, Chennaiyan FC top scoring for two seasons. The Mizo Sniper as they call him has been a regular in the Indian Team and has always been a dependable source of goals and it goes without saying that he would be a key player in the upcoming endeavors for Indian Football. 

 
Sunil Chhetri – Forward:

Captain, Leader, LEGEND. The three words that best describe the great man’s contribution to Indian Football. The stalwart has become an essential mainstay for a long time now and the Indian team sheet looks incomplete without the man. Being the third highest international goalscorer in international Football history, only behind two footballing greats in the form of Messi and Ronaldo, he has already cemented himself in the footballing history of his nation. He’s undoubtedly the biggest name in Indian football and will be the flagbearer hopefully for a few more years.