Sandesh Jhingan chosen as new Indian national team captain
In the absence of Sunil Chhetri for the upcoming tri-nation series, Sandesh Jhingan has been chosen as the new captain of the Indian national team. The burly defender will lead the Blue Tigers against Mauritius in the tri-series opener tomorrow.
Jhingan has been one of the most impressive India internationals in the recent past. The Kerala Blasters centre-back has played a key role in the Blue Tigers current streak of eight consecutive wins and certainly deserves the armband.
India head coach Stephen Constantine has tried to remove any hierarchies in the Indian setup if his selections and choices are anything to go by. The Englishman is in his second stint with the national team and has taken a different approach this time out in terms of personnel choices.
Constantine has given debuts to more than 30 players in his current spell and once again selected a raft of India U23 players into the national team camp for the tri-series. The captaincy nod for Jhingan, hence, comes as no surprise. Constantine had previously also made goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu the national team captain ahead of the regular skipper, Sunil Chhetri.
Chhetri will not be involved in the tri-series that features St. Kitts & Nevis apart from Mauritius and India because of continental commitments with Bengaluru FC. The 33-year-old will lead the Blues against April 25 Sports Club of North Korea in an AFC Cup inter-zonal semi-final on 23rd August, a day before India face St. Kitts & Nevis.
Jhingan has developed a strong partnership at the heart of India's defence with Anas Edathodika. The 24-year-old is a commanding presence and is also surprisingly quick for a tall defender. Alongside Gurpreet and Chhetri, Jhingan is among the faces of the new India who have climbed the FIFA rankings ladder impressively in the last few months.
Although it will count for very little in the FIFA rankings scheme of things, the tri-series will serve as India's preparation for next month's crucial AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifier against Macau in Macau on 5th September.
India face Mauritius in the tri-series opener tomorrow at the Mumbai Football Arena. Can Jhingan relish wearing the armband and lead India to a confidence-boosting series win? The match kicks off at 7.30 pm IST.