Asian Cup a step towards dream of playing World Cup: Sandesh Jhingan

Defender Sandesh Jhingan believes in the next three matches to make it to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup India To achieve ‘ultimate dream’ of playing in FIFA, Asia’s showpiece football tournament needs to be a regular World cup.

Speaking on the eve of India’s first match of Group D’s third round qualifier against Cambodia in Kolkata on Wednesday, Jhingan said, “Everybody in the World Cup, every football fan and player wants to be there. To reach that level, we need to be regular in the Asian Cup. It is the first step towards the ultimate dream.”

India is chasing fifth place in the Asian Cup final tournament. The Blue Tigers aim to qualify for the Asian Cup back-to-back for the first time. Earlier, India has participated in the 1964, 1984, 2011 and 2019 editions.

Jhingan also heaped praise on ATK Mohun Bagan teammate Liston Colaco, who is expected to do well in the Asian Cup qualifiers in the AFC Cup.

“The youth are doing really well. Especially Liston. He deserves everything he has got now. He has a long way to go and I am sure he will do well, he has that appetite. When you start doing good, the world around you comes to you but they have retained that humility and desire to do good. There will be a lot of players who will come so you need to keep working, that is one thing I really admire Liston for,” Jhingan said.

“Not only has Liston, Roshan (Singh) had a great season, Manveer (Singh) has also seen him grow. A lot of young players dream big and work hard. It’s a long road, you have to keep learning. It’s the same for me, I’m 28 and I can’t say I’ve reached my peak yet. The idea is to improve all the time, do good for our clubs, contribute to the national team and help India reach greater heights so that all our fans can be happy,” Jhingan said while assuring the fans that His best is yet to come.

India face off after the match against Cambodia Afghanistan and Hong Kong in Group D. Jhingan is excited about the prospect of qualifying for the Asian Cup in front of the home fans.

“Football is all about the supporters and playing in front of the enthusiastic supporters we dreamed of when we were little boys, representing the national side in front of packed stadiums – it is the stuff of dreams. The more fans that come, the better. It will give us a push and extra motivation. The importance of going to the Asian Cup is huge and it would be a privilege to do it at our home ground in Kolkata,” commented Jhingan.

While India dropped out of the race to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2019, the national team aims to make it to the quadrennial global event in 2026, where the tournament will be expanded to 48 teams, including eight from Asia. Will be ,

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