Star defender Sandesh Jhingan says the young batch of Indian players is a motivated lot with the right balance of aggression and calmness, which made his life easier as he led India to a 1-1 draw against Oman in Dubai on Thursday.
When the 27-year-old Jhingan had walked out to lead the country, six debutants followed him. Post the final whistle, the number of debutants went up from six to 10 – with another four coming on from the bench during the match. "One thing I can say for this batch is that I need to use the least words for them because they are already so motivated and mentally pumped up for the game," Jhingan told AIFF.
"Of course, you need to be calm and intelligent. But you need to have some aggression to win your duels. The boys have it, they have the aggressiveness. And they also have calmness when they get the ball. My job as a captain was easier."
Jhingan played his maiden international match against Nepal in 2015 when then India coach Stephen Constantine handed seven players their national team debut.
"Only the other day, I was calling my mother and telling her that I finally made my international debut. Now I realise it was in 2015. Time flies," he smiled.
"I was kind of seeing myself in the boys during the match. I feel the future is extremely bright with the kind of mindset and talent the new boys possess. I believe there is a lot to improve, and we can improve. I am just happy being here with this batch. For any nation to grow in any aspect... you need to have a continuous supply of talent.
"Youth development will ensure that you can get a new Sandesh Jinghan, a Sunil Chhetri, a Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and all others every year, no matter what. The regular supply of talent every single year will ensure that the national team improves.
"Be it Belgium or Germany or England or anyone massive on the world football map, everyone follows the same philosophy. It is very good to see how well the boys are trained, and I am positive about the future."
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Head coach Igor Stimac said he was "happy with the result" as so many players made their debuts.
"One good thing was the result in the end. The whole team reacted really well in the second half. They did their best and tried everything. We had some good transitions, which is something I was looking for," he said.
"In the end, I have to say I am happy because we had 10 debutants today – some with many minutes on the pitch and some with only a few. But, they all did their part in getting our first point from Oman in three games." Stimac said he will look to give chances to other players in the second international friendly against the UAE on Monday.
"There is another game now and I need to give a chance to other players who didn't play today (Thursday), which is why we are here. In a month, we will start from scratch and I need to find out what they can do against such sides."
The friendlies are part of the preparation for the joint qualifying round matches of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup to be played in June.
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