Stephen Constantine reveals why Sandesh Jhingan was appointed India captain
Sandesh Jhingan was appointed the new Indian football team captain yesterday which came as little surprise given both Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu are unavailable for the Tri-Nation series. However, India head coach Stephen Constantine has revealed why Jhingan's elevation to the captain's position wasn't by luck or chance, but because of the character of the player.
Ahead of today's game against Mauritius, Constantine told the media: "The Captain should reflect the coach of the team, and I think Jhingan is a fighter and warrior, which reflects my outlook towards the game."
Constantine, the well-traveled football coach who has trained teams in Africa and Asia apart from spells in the United States and English, knows a thing or two about being a fighter and a warrior considering his career trajectory, and in Jhingan, he sees some of his own qualities.
The 24-year-old central defender was handed his international debut about two years ago and vindicated the Englishman's choice as he helped his team keep a shut-out against Nepal in a 2-0 win. Ever since, the Kerala Blasters defender has been a mainstay in the India setup and has duly merited his captaincy nod.
Jhingan will lead India against Mauritius and St. Kitts & Nevis in the tri-nation series over the next few days and should he produce commanding displays in the two matches, he can stake a claim to replace Chhetri as the long-term choice for the India captaincy.
Constantine's words suggest that he is a fan of the former Bengaluru FC man and his attitude towards the game. Subrata Pal was an option in Chhetri and Gurpreet's absence, but going for the man who is six years Pal's junior means that Constantine has high hopes from Jhingan.
It remains to be seen whether India can stretch their current winning streak to ten matches at the end of the tri-nation series, and should they do it, Jhingan will be at the heart of it. The man from Chandigarh has shown how he is not afraid of sticking a leg in, and it is now time for him to show how the captaincy responsibility doesn't faze him.