Sky's the limit for India at AFC Asian Cup: Sandesh Jhingan
Indian football team centre-back Sandesh Jhingan talks about his team's chances at the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.
Indian football team defender Sandesh Jhingan feels optimistic about the team's chances in the upcoming AFC Asian Cup, which will take place this month.
The Indian football team squad arrived at the Hamad International Airport in Doha late Saturday night. India were greeted by fervorous chants from over a hundred fans who had gathered outside the airport, and even outside their team hotel, who expressed their support towards the team.
Even representatives from the Indian Embassy in Qatar came down to the airport and the hotel to greet the members of the squad.
The AFC Asian Cup journey for the Indian team will kick off on January 13 when they lock horns with Australia in their opening game of Group B. Later on, the Sunil Chhetri-led side will face Uzbekistan followed by a clash against Syria.
Jhingan, who has been one of the key players for India under Stimac, expressed faith in his team upon their arrival at the Hamad International Airport.
“No group in the Asian Cup is easy. Of course, we’ve got Australia, and they need no introduction. But what we have learned in the last few years is that we must never fear any opposition,” he stated in an interview with the-aiff.com.
India are the lowest-ranked team in Group B. However, the FC Goa defender believes the Blue Tigers can produce something special in Qatar.
“Believe in the work you do, believe in your group, and the sky’s the limit for this batch. We must stay humble, keep improving, and hopefully do something special,” Jhingan said.
This will mark the fifth appearance for India in the AFC Asian Cup. They will be keen to make it through to the knockout stage where the top two teams from each group alongside the four best third placed teams will qualify.
The last time India made it past the group stage in the AFC Asian Cup was back in 1964, finishing second in the group.
Despite the challenge ahead of them in Qatar, India will hope to replicate the form they displayed in 2023. Stimac's side won three titles last year including the Tri-Nation Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the SAFF Championship. India won these tournaments on home soil unbeaten. The 30-year-old is impressed with how fast the team has improved throughout the last year and acknowledged the support that the Blue Tigers have been receiving.
“We have been getting some great support at home, and we’ve had a great year, which shows how fast we are improving. Now it’s all about putting in our best effort here and seeing where we can land up,” shared Jhingan.