Indian defender Sandesh Jhingan has said that he will do everything that he can do in his personal capacity to help India reach the World Cup. He added that if he is not able to achieve the dream as a player, he would help India reach the marquee event as a coach.

The 26-year-old center-back has been one of India’s best defenders for the major part of the last decade.

“We have to have that dream to be in the World Cup, and it is a dream I also have,” Jhingan told FIFA. (via IANS)

“It is something I want to achieve like crazy before I hang up my boots. If I don’t achieve it as a player, I will do everything I can to help India qualify by coaching.”

“But we have to understand we have to take steps towards it. The Asian Cup last year and all these things are stepping stones towards that bigger dream.”

Jhingan highlighted that India’s performance at the 2019 Asian Cup where they came close to sealing a knockout birth for the first time since 1964 and their draw against continental champions Qatar showed their improvement as a unit.

“It (last year’s Asian Cup) was a good learning experience,” said Jhingan.

“You have to do your best and if it doesn’t go the way you wanted, you have to learn from it.

“Things have gone really well [in recent years]. We went four matches without conceding and we had a 13-match unbeaten run.

“We felt we could get the winner towards the end [against Qatar in World Cup qualifying], and that shows how much our mentality has improved as a national team.”

Jhingha recalled that he always wanted to play for the national team throughout his growing up years.

“Other Asian kids want to play for Man United, Real Madrid, but as I kid I always dreamed of playing for India,” said Jhingan.

“I remember when I was 14, 15 watching the national team, and scrawling at school what formation we should play, and sharing ideas with my friends.

“I love my country so much. I have always had this pride. When I left the national team camp as a teenager in 2010, I promised myself I would never sing the national anthem until I made the national team.

“On 12 March 2015, I made my debut for the national team and I finally got to sing the national anthem, and I have never sung it so loudly. I got a tattoo to mark the date. Even now, when I get a national team call-up, I make a small prayer. It is great to play for 1.3 billion people and do my best for them.”