Indian football team assistant coach Shanmugam Venkatesh feels it is the perfect time for defender Sandesh Jhingan and midfielder Anirudh Thapa to ply their trade at international clubs.
Jhingan is among the biggest names in Indian football at the moment, while 22-year-old Thapa has also impressed with his game, turning out for both his club Chennaiyin FC and the national team.
“I strongly feel this is the right time for him to go and play outside (India). It’s a big surprise that he is still playing in India. Whatever Sandesh has achieved so far is entirely because of his hard work,” Venkatesh said during an All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) Instagram Live session.
“Not only Sandesh, but also Thapa has the potential to play outside India. They are good enough,” he added.
The former India captain feels sharing the dressing room with international players in foreign leagues will help the Indian national team improve.
“There are many players with great potential. When people ask how we can make the Indian team better — I would say that more players should play for clubs outside India. And for Sandesh, I think this the right time.
“By mentioning outside India I am not always hinting at European leagues. I only hope 8-9 players go out and play maybe in the J-League, the league in the UAE, the K-League, or elsewhere,” Venkatesh added.
Venkatesh said he had also received an offer to play in Japan’s second division league but missed the opportunity.
“Mahesh (Gawli), Jules (Alberto), myself we all received offers to play outside. I had an offer from a J-League 2nd division league. But somehow I didn’t take the plunge. We lacked adequate knowledge.”
He highlighted the improvement in Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s game after the goalkeeper played for the Norwegian club Stab k.
“You need to look at Gurpreet and the manner he has improved after playing in Europe. The knowledge a player gets playing outside is immense,” he opined.
“I always encourage players to commit mistakes. Sometimes, they stay shy of playing freely. But it doesn’t help them grow. Unless you commit mistakes, you won’t learn.
“Everyone wants to see how we can improve. If these boys go out, they’ll learn and that’ll, in turn, help the National Team (improve),” the former midfielder expressed,” he added.
Talking about Jhingan, the coach said Indian football needs more characters like the brawny defender who are willing to take on any challenge.
“Sandesh is a committed player and wants to play every game. He is a fighter and is up for everything. He is a leader and very patient. We need characters like him in the team.”