Conceding just 11 goals from as many as 14 group games last season, Kerala Blasters did a splendid job at the back, in season 1 of the Hero Indian Super League. Defenders Sandesh Jhingan and Cedric Hengbart were the pillars in defense for Kerala, in a season where they almost clinched the ultimate prize on offer.
Unsurprisingly, new manager Peter Taylor who has considerably shuffled the side for ISL 2, retained the services 24-year old Sandesh Jhingan; a warrior in the Kerala rear guard last season.
One of the 6 Englishmen brought into the Kerala Blasters this season, will be veteran defender, Peter Ramage. The seasoned defender will look to solidify the back four at Kerala to uphold their defensive reputation from last season.
Here is how the defensive pair of Sandesh Jhingan and Peter Ramage can be a juggernaut in defense for Kerala.
Born in the city of Chandigarh in Punjab, young Sandesh was part of the St.Stephen’s Football Academy. During his time there, Jhingan helped his youth team reach the South-East Asian finals of the renowned Manchester United Premier cup; a tournament known for promoting young talent from around the globe each year. At the state level, Jhingan represented Chandigarh to successfully clinch the illustrious, B.C Roy trophy
Hailing from Whitely Bay, Northside, Peter Ramage enjoyed 11 long years of professional football in England, playing for sides like Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers. Coming through the ranks of the Newcastle United Academy, Ramage made his first team debut in April 2005 against Manchester United. He played an integral part for the Crystal Palace side that earned promotion to the Barclays Premier League in 2013.
Standing tall at 6 feet and 2 inches, Sandesh Jinghan’s long frame will be a towering presence at the back. Jhingan, the ‘Emerging Player’ from season 1 of the ISL, can also put his aerial prowess to use on either ends of the pitch. Jhingan’s trademark work ethic, that made him a fan favourite at Kerala, will surely be on display at Kerala this season as well.
Another one of Jinghan’s attributes is his ability to slot in anywhere among the back four. Last season, he played at the full-back position for Kerala but it looks like he has made the centre-back position his own, after impressive displays for Sporting Club de Goa and the Indian National team at centre back.
Peter Ramage’s immense experience and understanding of the game will be vital for Kerala as he will be the central figure who reads the game from defense. His tough tackling and interception skills should be put to use effectively. When in possession, Ramage also can be the source of composure for movements starting from behind.
While his capabilities in the air are aplenty, Sandesh Jhingan may have a tough time trying to keep the quick and light-footed attacking players at bay. In the past, we have seen Sandesh appearing a little flat footed against nimble strikers, who have a few tricks up their sleeves. He can also at times be a bit reckless going into a challenge, leading to grave consequences.
Peter Ramage’s vast playing experience may not necessarily come to his aid, when he sets out in the hot and humid conditions in India. While he maybe well accustomed to the conditions in England, he may find it a bit hard to ply all his experience, owing to the harsh climatic conditions of the subcontinent. If the weather, unfortunately does get the better of him, we will not be able to see the best that the Brit has to offer.
What they can offer
Kerala have found a right balance between aggression and composure in defense. The combination of two different styles in Jhingan and Ramage at the back may prove to be very effective for the Blasters if things go as per plan for coach, Peter Taylor.
Strikers will find it hard to break down the strong defensive unit anchored by both Jhingan and Ramage, as the pair are armed to cope with all styles of attacking threats. While Jhingan may be employed to combat the attackers with a strong physique and strength, Ramage will be in charge of sweeping the back tidy. Organisational duties, may also fall to Ramage, as he will assume the responsibility of keeping the back four intact.
Tipped by many to be the next Indian national team captain, Sandesh Jhingan has a very bright future ahead of him. Jhingan, referred to by his fans as the ‘Indian Maldini’, was recently named the ‘Best Indian Player’ at the FPAI (Football Players’ Association of India) meet.
At 31 years of age, Peter Ramage may no longer have the legs of a young English defender which he once was, but he still has a lot to offer in his drawer to the Hero Indian Super League. A winner of the English Championships with Queens Park Rangers, Ramage will want to settle for nothing but the winner’s medal.Published 05 Oct 2015, 14:16 IST