Indian star defender Sandesh Jingan, who was named AIFF Men of the Year footballer of the year on Wednesday, said there is a lot of hunger in the national team to qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup in China.
India had a disappointing finish in its 2022 World Cup qualifiers, finishing third in the group with seven points and failing to advance to the next round. But they managed to make the third round of qualifications for the Asian Cup planned to take place from February to September next year.
“Our goal is to be in the Asian Cup in China. We want to make it better this time, a lot of passion, determination, desire and enthusiasm is invested in this qualification for the Asian Cup,” said Jingan, who turned 28 in Wednesday. during a virtual media conference organized by the AIFF.
India drew 1-1 with Afghanistan to end the joint qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup on 15 June.
Their biggest result was a goalless draw in history against the Asian champions Qatar in Doha, while they managed to win alone against Bangladesh with 2: 0.
“I’m the first to raise my hands and say we’re not playing to our potential. But we did our best, but the situation wasn’t what it should have been. I’m not using it as an excuse. To sum it up, we had to do better.
“Now it’s about doing well in the Asian qualifiers and then getting stronger every time. We want to do really well and play the Asian Cup. We want to do much better than last time and try to we qualify from the group and play the knockout stage, that’s the plan now, “he said.
Jingan said the blockage caused by COVID was the main reason for the lack of preparation. “There were a lot of obstacles for COVID-19, we couldn’t train together for most of last year. That was the big problem.
“I just hope everything will be easy, there will be no more blockages and if everything was pleasant and safe for everyone, I think we will make the country proud,” he said.
Given the Asian Cup qualifiers, the contract of Indian head coach Igor Shtimak has been extended until September 2022, although his victory rate was only 13.33.
Out of 15 matches, the Croatian World Cup managed only two victories, six draws and seven defeats, which was much worse than the predecessor of Stephen Konstantin.
“He (Stimak) has played at the highest level – the World Cup, the Premier League. So just being around him is a learning process. He helped me a lot and I am very happy to be the coach of the national team.”
Asked about Stimac’s contract extension, Jhingan said: “This is not my department, but the AIFF’s decision. I just have to worry that he chooses me for every game, for every camp.”
From battling a career-threatening ACL injury to winning the AIFF Men of the Year for his birthday, it was a roller coaster ride to Jhingan.
“I was disappointed when I found out about the ACL. I just went back and kept working. There is always someone who has achieved more or suffered more than you, whatever happened is nothing. It’s nothing compared to the real challenges of life, “he said on his return.
“This injury or any other injury, everything happens for good, it’s about maintaining faith in your work and a positive mood.