Indian national football team was dealt a severe blow ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh with mercurial defender Sandesh Jhingam ruling out for at least six months after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear on his left knee. (More Football News)
The 26-year-old from Chandigarh was injured during the friendly against Indian Super League outfit Northeast United in Guwahati on Wednesday. He limped off in the second half and the Indian camp confirmed about the injury on Thursday.
“Owing to an injury sustained in friendly game against @NEUtdFC, @SandeshJhingan has been ruled out from the forthcoming @FIFAWorldCup qualifier against Bangladesh on October 15. We wish him a speedy recovery,” the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said in a tweet.
Owing to an injury sustained in friendly game against @NEUtdFC, @SandeshJhingan has been ruled out from the forthcoming @FIFAWorldCup qualifier against Bangladesh ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ§ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ© on October 1ï¸ÂÂÂÂÂÂâÂÂÂÂÂÂ£5ï¸ÂÂÂÂÂÂâÂÂÂÂÂÂ£.— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) October 10, 2019
We wish him a speedy recovery ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ#BackTheBlue ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ #IndianFootball âÂÂÂÂÂÂ½ #BlueTigers ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ¯ pic.twitter.com/HGx8gqBbbX
India are scheduled to host Bangladesh in at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on Tuesday (October 15).
Often hailed as one of the best Indian defenders, Jinghan is the defensive mainstay and was a rock at the back in both their Group E World Cup qualifying games so far -- India pulling off a famous 0-0 draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha after narrowly losing to Oman 1-2 in their qualifying opener in Guwahati.
"Sandesh underwent an MRI on Thursday morning. But reports indicated that he won't get fit in time to play against Bangladesh," an AIFF statement said late in the day.
Jhingan was returning from an injury before the Oman clash in September. Another defender Rahul Bheke was ruled out after suffering a groin injury.
Talking about the importance of Jhingan, former India international Gouramangi Moirangthem said it is time the centre-back takes his game to the next level and makes the most of his leadership role in the backline.
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"I have seen him from very close quarters and he is like a younger brother. Sandesh is the best centre-back in India right now," Gouramangi told IANS.
"He should keep challenging himself and take his game to the next level. He has the potential to do that. He is 26 and this is the right time to realise his potential.
"I told you he is the best, but he can get better. That's how good he is," said the 33-year-old Manipuri who represented India in 69 matches between 2006 and 2013 and was rated as one of the best defenders the country has ever produced.
Asked what are the areas he feels Sandesh needs to work on, Gouramangi said: "I can't be specific. He is right there. You have seen him play and we all know how good he is. He just needs to keep pushing himself, stay fit and take care of the body. Time flies and he won't realise it. I always advise him to stay away from injuries as much as possible and keep working hard."
But this recent turn of events left Indian camp worried sick.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh lost to Qatar 0-2 in Dhaka on Thursday. This was their second defeat, having lost 0-1 to Afghanistan in their group opener.
They will arrive in Kolkata on Friday.
Qatar lead the Group E standings with seven points (two wins and a draw), followed by Oman with six points (two wins) and Afghanistan with three points (one win and two defeats). India are fourth with one point (one draw and one defeat). Bangladesh are yet to open their account (two defeats).