ISL 2017: Can Sandesh Jhingan prove his mettle against Bengaluru FC?

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The defender was previously on the books at Bengaluru FC and will be eager to shine when the Blues visit Kochi...

Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC is one of the most-awaited clashes in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season, partly due to the burgeoning fan rivalry between the supporters of the two teams. 

But we will also see several interesting sub-plots when it comes to personnel taking part in the match. The match sees the likes of Siam Hanghal, Rino Anto and CK Vineeth, all former Blues, taking to the field wearing the yellow jersey of the Blasters.

Bengaluru themselves have the likes of Rahul Bheke and Thongkhosiem Haokip - former Kerala Blasters players - in their squad. But the spotlight will also be on Sandesh Jhingan, the Kerala captain, who played for Bengaluru FC under current coach Albert Roca in last season's I-League and Federation Cup. 

Sandesh Jhingan; Kerala Blasters

However, Jhingan's spell at Bengaluru was not really a success, as the Blues floundered in the league and finished fourth despite having one of the best squads in the country. 

Jhingan himself was not really in the best of forms and underperformed at the heart of the Bengaluru defence, which often alternated between a four-man to a three-man backline during the course of the season. 

The 24-year-old, who was on loan during the spell, had generated a lot of excitement among the Blues' faithful and football followers when it was announced he would be linking up with Albert Roca's men. Bengaluru FC already had a strong defence, consisting of the likes of John Johnson, Juanan, Harmanjot Khabra etc.

So, Jhingan's arrival was expected to further fortify a solid defence as the Blues embarked on their title defence. In fact, many had boldly predicted Roca's men to easily win the league. 

But it was not to be as Jhingan failed to live up to the hype after an injury-marred start to the season. Bengaluru's defence became their Achilles' heel as they conceded silly goals and had to settle for the fourth spot in the table, having fallen off the title race even before the league got to the half-way stage. 

Sandesh Jhingan Minerva Punjab FC Bengaluru FC I-League 2017

He featured for the Blues in 11 I-League matches out of which they could win just the four games, with the centre-back looking out of sorts at times in Roca's system. He also conceded an own goal during Bengaluru's home game against newcomers Minerva Punjab, which helped the visitors eke out a draw. 

Jhingan had almost scuppered Bengaluru FC's victorious Federation Cup campaign last season when he brought down Stephane Kamo Bayi inside the area in injury time against Aizawl FC in the semifinals while leading 1-0. Only Amrinder Singh's fine save from the spotkick helped the Blues reach the summit clash which they went on to win. 

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Jhingan

The Chandigarh-born defender was retained by Kerala Blasters ahead of this season's player draft and was named the captain as well. Apart from one game against FC Goa, where the Kerala defence capitulated, Jhingan has marshalled the Blasters defence quite well and will be eager to lead his team to their second win of the campaign when his former team comes to the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, where they have conceded just the one goal so far in three games. 

More than that, he will be keen to prove his mettle and value to Bengaluru FC and show them his spell at the Karnataka capital was merely an aberration. 

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