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Sandesh Jhingan’s joining Croatian club has opened the door for Indians, says Chinglensana Singh

Sandesh Jhingan will become the first Indian footballer to play in the Croatian top-tier football league.

By: Sports Desk |
August 18, 2021 7:27:07 pm
Sandesh Jhingan completed his move to Croatia's top-tier league on Wednesday. (File Photo)

It’s official that Sandesh Jhingan has joined HNK Sibenik, a top-tier club in Croatia. The India defender underwent a mandatory medical test on Tuesday. The centre back, with 42 India appearances, left ATK Mohun Bagan, Kolkata after completing just one year of his five year contract.

The player from Chandigarh has played for several other clubs, starting with United Sikkim in 2010, and has played for Kerala Blasters in the ISL among others in his decade long career.

Later Jhingan tweeted: “I have nothing but a big thank you to everyone involved at ATK Mohun Bagan… ”

“I may consider releasing Sandesh Jhingan from the camp (for international friendlies),” said Igor Stimac, the national coach, who also hails from Croatia and took his country to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

However Jhingan’s teammate Chinglensana Singh said the move has “opened the door” for him, and all other Indian players.

“What Sandesh-paji has done is amazing and it is really good for us as players. We need to look further and explore Europe and other places to improve ourselves, and the National Team. I am really happy for him. He has opened the door for us. He is a great person and partner to play alongside. He players his heart out and words are not enough to describe playing with him. We share a special bond,” Sana told AIFF.com on Wednesday.

“I love the mentality and energy he brings on the field, and it rubs off on everyone in the team. It has struck a chord within me as well and I am learning a lot from him,” said the 24-year-old.

“Earlier it was Bhaichung (Bhutia)-bhai, Sunil (Chhetri)-bhai and then Gurpreet Singh-paji, who played abroad. And now it is Sandesh-paji, who is a defender. I am 24 now and this is an eye-opener for me. I will have the privilege to learn from him as his defensive partner whenever he returns, and what he will bring back to the national team will be huge and immense. I would like to follow in his footsteps and his move will encourage us to look beyond Indian football and reach that level,” said Sana, as he is fondly called. The young defender and 22 other players are undergoing a two-week training camp in Kolkata prior to their international friendlies.

“I am a player who is still developing and I want to keep growing. If I get the opportunity to play abroad, I would sure like to take it. It is a dream for any player to play in Europe. The more players will go, the better it will be for the national team as well,” said Chinglensana and added about the shift in the composition of the Indian side.

“The credit goes to the clubs, coaches and the national team coach for spotting young talents and giving them opportunities. The majority of players in the team are U-23, which is good for the development of Indian football. The ISL is really competitive and there is a lot of competition for positions in the camp too, which makes us better,” said the Manipuri who has played for India thrice in 2021.

On Stimac, Chinglensana said, “I have learned a lot from coach Stimac in a short time. He interacts with all the players and makes sure all details are followed. He ensures I know what I need to improve and work upon. As a defender, you know you have to look to keep possession of the ball for your team and avoid making clearances if you get the opportunity. It is something I have learned from him, along with other aspects like tackling and decision-making – not to dive into a tackle until you are sure, along with being a leader of the team from the back,” said the centre back of Hyderabad FC in the ISL.

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