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Without a camp, not ideal to play football qualifiers: Jhingan

Doha, June 1 (IANS) Defender Sandesh Jhingan on Tuesday conceded that it wasn’t an ideal situation for the Indian football team to play a combined qualifying tournament for the 2023 Asian Cup and the World Cup 2022 here without a proper preparatory camp.

The Sunil Chhetri-led India will play Asian champions Qatar on June 3, Bangladesh on June 7, and Afghanistan on June 15, and for that the team will remain in Doha for close to a month.

“Anyone who understands football knows the importance of a proper preparatory camp, and how important a friendly match is in preparation for a major tournament. Owing to the pandemic, we lost out on friendly matches in Dubai which isn’t ideal,” said Jhingan, who missed the last three matches of the World Cup 2022 qualifiers owing to an injury.

The Chandigarh-born Jhingan, 27, said that everyone remembers results. He said added that there are two ways to tackle the issue — either to take flight or to put up a brave fight.

“There are always two ways of looking at things. The easier option could have been to throw in the towel. But the great squad that we have, we are there to fight. No one remembers, and will ever make an effort, to get into the depth of the preparatory process,” he said.

“Everyone just remembers the result. If you are a part of the system, you will try your best to get the best for the team. But there are also certain aspects which are not in your hands. So, every human being is a bit helpless in that regard.”

The Indian team, which is placed fourth in Group E with three points, is out of reckoning for the 2022 World Cup qualifying race. However, it is vying for a berth in the 2023 Asian Cup.

The Indian team will remain in Doha for the combined qualifying tournament for a month in a bio-bubble.

“It’s tough. After all, we are also human beings and not robots. Our families are back in India. But the call of the nation supersedes everything,” said Jhingan, who has played 78 matches for Indian Super League team Kerala Blasters and 22 matches for ATK Mohun Bagan, on his experience inside the bio-bubble.

“As professional players when we signed contracts, we were aware of the obstacles that could have come our way. Obviously, none could ever predict the pandemic. I am fortunate enough to have a very good life. So, for me, bubble or no bubble, I get to do what I love the most — go out and play football. And I do it with a smile on my face.”



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