Igor Stimac gets defensive reboot as Sandesh Jhingan added to India’s squad for 19th Asian Games

Sandesh Jhingan

The Indian national Football team for the 19th Asian Games at Hangzhou, China, received a major boost when FC Goa gave Sandesh Jhingan the green light to be a part of the national side. This news comes days after the Indian squad was announced that included only one senior player out of a possible 3.

Star Striker Sunil Chhetri was the only player above 23 to be included in the 17-man squad. However, head coach Igor Stimac was seemingly disappointed after getting only 9 players out of the 22 he selected for Asian Games.

The Croatian went on to argue about ISL club’s not letting go of the players he wished for and questioned their sense of Nationalism. While the Indian team will take on China (Sep. 19), the 10th season of Indian Super League kicks off 2 days later.

In resonse, ISL clubs argued that the Asian Games falls out of the International window set by FIFA and that they are under no obligation of releasing their key players from their very first Matchday squad. It created a massive stir among Indian fans on social media plus the prospects of doing well in the continental games looked dull.

However, after much speculation, India’s defensive unit was boosted by the addition of senior CB Sandesh Jhingan, who has been a major part of Igor Stimac’s set up.

Stimac expressed his delight when Jhingan was added to the squad and said, “It’s a wonderful development that some experienced players have been added to the Asian Games squad, who will certainly help the cause of the team. I’m thankful to FSDL and AIFF for making it happen. Whoever represents India, together we will be honoured to defend the flag.”

Other than Jhingan, 2 more players were added to in the team. 22-year-old defender Lalchungnunga and 2021-22 ISL winner with Hyderabad FC, Chinglensana Singh have formed up India’s 20-man squad. 

In context, the Blue Tigers required a strong defensive structure when going out to play in the Asian Games. Before these 3 additions, India somewhat lacked potency in their back line but with Jhingan, Sana and Lalchungnunga coming in, the team is looking balanced.

“It is indeed a positive development on the eve of the Asian Games as the reliable pair of Sunil Chhetri and Sandesh Jhingan will be manning two key positions in the Indian attack and defence, respectively, for the continental games.” – AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey said. 

India begin their campaign against hosts China, followed by clashes against Bangladesh and Myanmar. If they finish within Top 2, Stimac’s side led by Chhetri will feature in the Round of 16 stage, then Quarter-finals, Semi-finals and the Finale on October 7.

India’s updated squad:

Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Rahim Ali, Rohit Danu, Gurkirat Singh, Aniket Jadhav

Midfielders: Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Samuel James Lyngdoh, Rahul KP, Abdul Rabeeh, Ayush Dev Chhetri, Bryce Miranda, Azfar Noorani, Vincy Barretto

Defenders: Sumit Rathi, Narender Gahlot, Deepak Tangri, Sandesh Jhingan, Chinglensana Singh, Lalchungnunga

Goalkeepers: Gurmeet Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem