The Indian National Team had their first practice session at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai on Monday (August 29). India play 114th ranked Puerto Rico in what is the first Official International match in Mumbai since 1955…

The Players who reported to the Camp on Sunday (August 28) had their medical screenings in the morning with the practice session slated for the afternoon.

Speaking at an interaction prior to the practice session, defender Sandesh Jhingan reflected on the importance of the match.

“It is an important game for us. They are a good Team and it will be a good contest. We intend to put up a good show and need play to our strengths to get a good result,” Jhingan stated.

“The entire squad has been improving a lot with every session and every match. Every match is a significant, be it against Iran or Bhutan. It’s part of us building steps for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup UAE Qualifiers which kick-off next year (in March 2017).”

The kick-off on September 3 is at 8pm.

“For a defender, the physical aspect is very important. I like being physical and dirty in the game. I like the elbows and don’t mind the blood spilling out. It’s part of the game and I always take passion when I wear the National jersey,” he stressed.

“But I am an entirely different character off the field,” Jhingan, who loves strumming the guitar and writing poems during leisure time informed.

“On the field it’s not easy to do the dirty thing. You need to fight to take the Ball to the more creative Players,” he opined. “The best thing about this squad is that everyone is a Leader. We try our best to help each other on the field. We are a Team.”

Jhingan hailed huge praise on Subrata Paul who received the Arjuna Award earlier in the day from the President of India. “I am really happy that Subrata paaji has received the Arjuna Award. He deserves it more than anyone else. He has been such a loyal servant to the National Team,” he quipped.

“For all of us who are new to the Team it’s a great motivating factor as now we have an ‘Arjuna’ amongst us. In fact, two,” he pronounced. Besides Subrata, Sunil Chhetri had received the Arjuna Award in 2011.

The defender par excellence has also made it a habit of scoring from headers with his last two International goals coming in the last three matches. “I am happy to be with the National Team but one cannot get complacent. Work is still in progress as far as improvement is concerned and it will always be in progress.”

“You always need to be in learning mode. But there are obstacles which come in the way in form of injuries. But I always get help from our Sports
Scientist Danny Deigan who has helped me improve physically,” he mentioned about Deigan.

“Danny is a top guy. Even when the Camp is not on, you just send him a text message and he responds immediately. He is always there to guide us.”

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