The India National Football Team started their fifth AFC Asian Cup campaign with a disheartening 2-0 loss to Australia in a Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar on Saturday.

The Blue Tigers showed incredible resilience but their gritty effort fell short as the Socceroos edged past them to snatch the crucial three points in the Group B opener. Midfielder Jackson Irvine opened the scoring within five minutes from the start of the second half to give Australia their lead. In the 73rd minute of the match, right-back Jordan Bos doubled their lead by tapping the ball into an empty net, concluding the match 2-0 for Australia. 

The Indian backline showed a remarkable performance giving the fans hope for the remaining group fixtures where India face Uzbekistan on January 18, and then wrapping up their group stage against Syria on January 23. 

Indian center-back Sandesh Jhingan was disheartened having lost the match but felt that there was a lot to learn from the fixture.

“Of course, we are disappointed with the defeat. You’re playing a team who went to the Round of 16 in the World Cup, so we can expect what happened today. A lot of good points, a lot of good lessons to learn from it,” stated Jhingan when speaking to ISL Media.

Expressing optimism towards the upcoming matches and putting his faith in the team, he added, “We got two more games, it’s all about recovery now. Recover and get better, and then Uzbekistan and Syria and we aim to qualify for the next round. We stick to that, we keep our heads high, we stay confident and as I always say, the sky’s the limit for this batch,”

Jhingan had shown an exceptional performance and caught the spotlight for leading the backline with utmost maturity. 

Addressing praises for his individual performance, the veteran believes he is just as good as the team and it's always about the team. 

He shared, “If the team wins, I had a great game, if the team loses, I had a bad game. That’s it. It’s all about the team. Of course, I want to contribute as much as I can which will help the team to win. But, I am as good as the team, so if the team loses, I am a loser today.”

Analyzing the match, the 30-year-old said, “In the first half we created decent chances, of course we dropped back at certain moments which was bound to happen, but we defended well at certain moments. Just these lessons, we gotta learn from them, we gotta play them more often.”

Jhingan was happy that they could force the Asian giants to break a sweat and was glad to witness a positive vibe in their dressing room. “We spoke now in the dressing room and there was a positive vibe. Of course, we were disappointed but in the back of our mind we knew, we could feel it, we could sense it, that they were having their nervy moments, we could hear it from their bench. They were panicking,” he said.