Boot camps hold a curious place in sports training. The drills are known to build character and team spirit, but on many occasions they have led to injuries due to the strenuous activities the players are put through.
On Thursday, it emerged that India’s star central defender Sandesh Jhingan would miss the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier game against Oman on Thursday and the away fixture to Guam later this month, after injuring his shoulder again. Coach Stephen Constantine stated that Jhingan had re-injured the shoulder he had hurt during the first edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) last year.
Incidentally, the news of the injury follows just three days after the team underwent a boot camp at the ASC centre in Bangalore as part of a team-building exercise.
“We did an MRI and there a tear has been detected. He needs surgery. That’s a setback for us for sure,” Constantine said. “He will no longer be part of our squad.” Jhingan, 21, who put in a stellar performance for for Kerala Blasters in the ISL, was expected to replicate that performance in national colours.
The team, which was supposed to arrive in Bangalore on June 4 for a preparatory camp ahead of their clash against Oman, was forced to stay in New Delhi till June 5 to complete visa formalities for their trip to Guam for their other World Cup Qualifier game.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh joined the team only on Wednesday as he was playing for Norwegian club Stabæk and has taken part in a full training session only once so far.
However, with the team’s No 1 goalkeeper Subrata Pal joining the team after a dreadful season with Salgaocar, Gurpreet could get a start. Up front too India faces trouble with striker Sunil Chhetri also joining the India side after an average domestic season which saw him produce just two goals.
The last time India faced Oman was in 2004 in another World Cup Qualifier. Stephen Constantine was at the helm of affairs then too. It turned out to be the last match of his first stint as India coach but before he left he led India to a gritty goalless draw.
Cut to 2015 and Oman still remains a formidable opponent, but Constantine promised to give their best. “From the first minute, we will fight and play our heart out and make it as difficult as we can for our opponents. We are going to need team spirit, cohesion and teamwork tomorrow,” he added. “I think Oman are ranked above us and the pressure will be much higher on them,” he said with a touch of optimism.