Asian Cup 2019: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu or Amrinder Singh - Who deserves to start as India's goalkeeper?
The days when giants like Kolkata, Goa or Kerala contributed the most number of players to the Indian national team are gone. Players from all parts of the country now have sealed their positions for the Blue Tigers. The state of Punjab can be proud that they contributed two new captains to the national team recently - Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sandesh Jhingan.
The competition for the spot under the bars too is getting spicier as two Punjab-born are closely competing for it. So, should it be Gurpreet Singh Sandhu or Amrinder Singh who should start for India in the AFC Asian Cup 2019?
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Gurpreet Singh has been a regular figure in the national team for some years now. After making his debut in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, the Bengaluru FC custodian became India's first choice goalkeeper from 2015. The 26-year-old has made 22 appearances in national colours.
The former Stabæk goalkeeper played both of India's friendlies against China and Jordan, but conceded a silly goal from a goal kick by the Jordan penalty box. But the same villain was a hero a month back, when India held China to a goalless draw.
This season, Gurpreet has played 11 matches for Bengaluru, where he has kept 4 clean sheets and conceded 8 goals. He has made 28 saves and maintains a save percentage of 77.
Amrinder Singh has been a very tough competition to Gurpreet's spot in the national team recently. Though he has overcome other names in the run, like Vishal Kaith and Arindam Bhattacharya, he hasn't been able to surpass Gurpreet on many occasions. But it might now be time to finally get some playing time for India.
Amrinder has played 2 games for India, making his debut earlier this year. The 25-year-old Mumbai City FC custodian has been impressive for the club in ISL this season, taking the team to the second spot, just behind Bengaluru FC. The former ATK-goalkeeper is going through one his best playing days at Mumbai. The team is on a 7-match unbeaten streak with Amrinder guarding the goal.
This ISL season, Amrinder Singh has played 11 matches, conceded 10 goals and kept 5 clean sheets. He has made 34 saves at a rate of 77% from total shots faced on target.
Numbers tell us completely identical stories. Both the goalkeepers have kept the same percentage of saves. In terms of clean sheets and total saves too, the two Punjabi players are not too different. Confidence levels too will not be an issue as both have had successful campaigns with their respective clubs.
One factor that might go in favour of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to make it to the first XI would be experience. Stephen Constantine might not go for a gamble at a big event like the Asian Cup and is expected to go with his regular keeper at goal.
However, it wouldn't be wrong if the manager can offer Amrinder Singh some good playing time in the two friendlies that are to be played and have a check on his form.
Anyways, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will be the hot favourite and deserves to be the first choice goalkeeper, despite both the keepers showcasing outstanding performances.