We have to build up on this: Sandesh Jhingan reacts to India's Hero Tri-Nation win

The Indian football team clinched the Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament trophy after a 2-0 victory against Kyrgyz Republic at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal, Manipur, on Tuesday.

A packed Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal, Manipur saw 30,000 supporters turning up in support of the home team in the Hero Tri-Nation decider. The home team started the match on the front foot and after numerous chances, the deadlock was broken in the 38th minute with Sandesh Jhingan turning in Brandon Fernandes' free-kick from close range. An eventful second half saw both teams giving their best but it was team India skipper Sunil Chhetri who calmly converted from the penalty spot in the 84th minute to seal the win for the Blue Tigers.

Fernandes expressed his gratitude to the fans and backed the team to continue in the same way as the team prepares for the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

"Feeling great here in Imphal, Manipur. The crowd has been amazing. We had only one thing in our minds and that was to win this tournament and win both of the matches and that's what we did. We are very happy and this is a growing step for us, the AFC Asian Cup is coming and we have to continue like this," Fernandes said after the match.

Fernandes, who has been a regular part of the Indian team for the past few years now, spoke about providing the assist for the opening goal. 

"When we got the freekick, Chhetri bhai (Sunil Chhetri) and Sandesh (Jhingan) came to me and Sandesh just told me to put the ball in the space and he'll attack it. That's what I did, I tried to put the ball very softly and he made a very good run, so credit to him for finishing," the FC Goa midfielder state.

Meanwhile, Chhetri scored his 85th goal for the Indian team, surpassing legend Ferenc Puskàs. The India captain now sits in fifth place in the all-time international goalscorers' list. Chhetri talked about the importance of the clean sheet and the experience of playing in Manipur.

"I feel good, more importantly for the clean sheet, that was important. We don't get to play for the national team at home and this is the first time we're playing at Manipur, so it's a good feeling to keep two clean sheets," Chhetri said after the match.

Jhingan, who netted his the fifth goal in national team colours, opened up on how much the win meant to the team and thanked the Manipur crowd for the support they provided.

"The win is what matters and we are happy with the win. Being a defender, clean sheets are something that we admire or look forward to more but happy for the team. The effort they put in was top notch and we deserved to win and we've to build on this. We have a busy calendar ahead of us with important games leading up to the AFC Asian Cup so we have to keep building up on that. Thanks to Manipur, the way they turned up is brilliant and we hope that we've given them many reasons to smile and for many years to come and we're really happy for the whole of India," Jhingan stated after the final whistle.

"This is something that me and Brandon (Fernandes) have known for years, this is a very old trick of me, Brandon and Sunil Bhai (Chhetri). The initial plan was to put the ball there and for me to pass it inside for Sunil but it just landed in front of me and I put it inside, it was instinctive but the plan was the ball will come over to me and I'll put it back in for Sunil for a tap in but when it's your day it's your day (laughs)," said Jhingan while talking about the goal he scored.

Akash Mishra was named the Hero of the match against Kyrgyz Republic after his brilliant display on the left flank. The left-back kept the door shut from his side of the defence for the opponents and was lively for the whole of 90 minutes on the left wing. The youngster provided support to the attackers and delivered inviting crosses into the penalty box.

"I think they gave me the award but everybody on the pitch, the boys deserve this award and the boys who came on from the bench, they did a really brilliant job and we were really strong together as a team. It was difficult for us but we played as a team and the support we got from Manipur, it really pushed us and we felt like we were with the 12th player on the pitch, so they were really motivating us and that helped us to win the game," Mishra said after the match.

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