NEW DELHI: Sandesh Jhingan and Chinglensana Singh have formed a formidable centre-back pairing for the Blue Tigers in recent matches and with the former set to join Croatian top-division side HNK Sibenik, his defensive partner Chinglensana in an AIFF TV chat on Wednesday, spoke about how Sandesh's move has “opened the door” for him, and all other Indian players.
"What Sandesh-paji has done is amazing and it is really good for us as players. We need to look further and explore Europe and other places to improve ourselves, and the National Team. I am really happy for him. He has opened the door for us. He is a great person and partner to play alongside. He players his heart out and words are not enough to describe playing with him. We share a special bond,” Sana expressed.
"I love the mentality and energy he brings on the field, and it rubs off on everyone in the team. It has struck a chord within me as well and I am learning a lot from him."
The 24-year-old also talked about the impact that Sandesh's move can have on young players such as him, and how he would like to follow in his footsteps in the near future.
"Earlier it was Bhaichung-bhai (Bhutia), Sunil-bhai (Chhetri) and then Gurpreet-paji (Singh Sandhu), who played abroad. And now it is Sandesh-paji, who is a defender. I am 24 now and this is an eye-opener for me. I will have the privilege to learn from him as his defensive partner whenever he comes back, and what he will bring back to the national team will be huge and immense. I would like to follow in his footsteps and his move will encourage us to look beyond Indian football and reach that level."
"I am a player who is still developing and I want to keep growing. If I get the opportunity to play abroad, I would sure like to take it. It is a dream for any player to play in Europe. The more players will go, the better it will be for the national team as well," Chinglensana stated.
The young defender, who is currently in Kolkata as part of the ongoing senior national team training camp, spoke about the shift in the composition of the Indian side, with many youngsters now coming in and the average age of the squad going down significantly.
"The credit goes to the clubs, coaches and the national team coach for spotting young talents and giving them opportunities. The majority of players in the team are U-23, which is good for the development of Indian football. The Hero ISL is really competitive and there is a lot of competition for positions in the camp too, which makes us better."
"It's a very good atmosphere here. The mentality has changed with regards to our eating habits, fitness, spending our leisure time etc. We have grown and matured a lot and realize the importance of investing in ourselves. The standards are very high and everyone knows that we have the responsibility of the entire nation on us."
Chinglensana also discussed the impact head coach Igor Stimac has had on the team during his time and what he has absorbed from the former FIFA World Cup bronze medalist.
"I have learned a lot from coach Stimac in a short time. The time we spend with the national team is limited. But the coach makes sure he interacts with all the players and makes sure all details are followed. He ensures I know what I need to improve and work upon, and I appreciate that he is open and has very good communication with the players. He makes sure we are comfortable and confident before a match by taking the pressure off us and allows us to play our natural game," he averred.
"As a defender, you know you have to look to keep possession of the ball for your team as much as possible and avoid making clearances if you get the opportunity. It is something I have learned from him, along with other aspects like tackling and decision-making - not to dive into a tackle until you are sure, along with being a leader of the team from the back."