The Indian men’s senior football team reached Guwahati on Monday to face Oman in the much-awaited World Cup-qualifier clash on September 5. Upon reaching, India’s mainstay in defence Sandesh Jhingan informed that the players are in the right shape of mind and are confident of putting a dominating display in their first qualifying match.

Since May, when Croatian Igor Stimac took control of the Indian ship, the change of style in the team’s play has been evident. The focus now is to keep the ball possession as much as possible and build the attack from the back. According to Jhingan, though the players have not fully been able to implement Stimac’s style on the field but they love the new approach.

“It’s not easy to implement a new possession-based style. We have to be brave and I can say that from our games against Curacao (King’s Cup) to Syria (Hero Intercontinental Cup), we have improved a lot. We have the right kind of players and everyone in the team has loved the new approach,” the centre-back was quoted as saying by the official website of AIFF.

Explaining further about how the team prepared keeping in mind Stimac’s tactics, Jhingan said that they worked for it both on and off the pitch during their preparatory camp in Goa before reaching Guwahati. “Training has been about building patterns on the pitch and making them a natural part of our games. As a centre-back, I have to play out from the back and every player is adapting to his new role as well. Off the field, we are studying as well and we keep getting videos and clippings from the staff, that help us learn better,” the 26-year-old explained.

Also, Jhingan relieved his younger days and talked about how he felt when he had made his debut for the senior team at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, the same venue which will see the Blue Tigers facing Oman on Thursday. “Guwahati will always occupy a special place in my heart. As a player, I made my International debut in Guwahati. My baptism started here. How can I ever forget this place? The Guwahati link will always stay in me,” he smiled.

The Oman football team also arrived in Guwahati on the same day to play the Group E qualifier match which will start at 7:30 PM on Thursday. Bangladesh, Qatar and Afghanistan are the other teams that make up the entire group.