AFC Asian Cup 2019: 'We are in a tough group, we must go in as underdogs' says Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
India are clubbed in Group A along with Thailand, Bahrain and UAE in the AFC Asian Cup
Indian National team custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who will be carrying the hopes of billions of Indian fans in 2019 AFC Asian Cup, said on Wednesday, that India have been pitted in a tough group, and all the players will have to give their absolute best to eke out positive results. He claimed India will travelling to UAE as an underdog.
“We can’t be complacent. We can’t take things for granted and we need to work hard. If we do not give it our all, give it our best, then it will be very tough. Thailand, Bahrain and specially UAE who are the host nation, all are very strong teams.
"People think the teams aren’t that good – they’re very good. I think UAE and Thailand missed the World Cup marginally. But we need to be at our very best because if we are not (then) we have to blame ourselves”, the custodian stated.
Asked specifically about what India’s aim would be, since there’s a chance of the third best team in a group to get qualified, the Punjab shot-stopper said, "We need to aim to be the best, but we can't take things for granted. We need to go as underdogs and play one game at a time, try to perform (in) one game at a time. We cannot sit here & plan how and which teams to win points against.”
“We have to focus on our first game on Thailand for the start and then move forward. Against Thailand (in the first match), we need to give our best and then take it from there, because after that we would know what we are capable of," the 26-year-old added.
When asked about which areas the team needs improvements as the oppositions in 2019 AFC Asian Cup are vastly different from one another, Sandhu said, "You cannot point out one specific area. You have to work on everything. But we have been decent defensively. If you look at the number of goals we have conceded, it has decreased over the last couple of years, and that was the aim. But now we need to take this opportunity; try and experiment on the areas we need to improve.”
"Conceding lesser goals is our aim to help out the team. I always have to maintain good communication with my defence partners and that's what I do. My main coordination is with the centre-backs, because if I control them and tell them, they control the others and that’s how it goes," he continued.
On a reference to the UEFA Champions League Loris Karius’ blunders, Gurpreet, who is not at all stranger to these howlers, said, “To become a good goalkeeper you would have to forget your mistakes and forget them fast. As a human being, mistakes are bound to happen, but how well you bounce back from those upsets actually defines a good goalkeeper.”