Exclusive: Intercontinental Cup 2019 - 'The fans can expect a better performance from India in the World Cup Qualifiers,' says Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
After back-to-back losses in the Intercontinental Cup against Tajikistan and DPR Korea, India ended the tournament on a positive note by holding the highest-ranked FIFA team in the tournament, Syria, 1-1 at the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad. Many fans criticized Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for letting in four goals against the Central Asia nation, but when Amrinder Singh conceded five in the next game, he got his mantle back.
The Bengaluru FC custodian believes India has learned from their mistakes in the previous two matches and if they play with the same determination as they did against Syria, they can go a long way.
"This result is quite motivating for us compared to the last two matches. It's important that we keep playing like this because this is the standard we have set. Though we had a couple of halves from both games where we played well, the results didn't go our way. The boys have bounced back from the last two games."
Looking back at India's first home game under new coach Igor Stimac where they lost to Tajikistan, Gurpreet opined that they shouldn't have conceded that many goals. All of them came from individual errors and could have been avoided if they played as a team.
"In that game, we shouldn't have conceded so much. We have to play as a team. But, in the first game, we lost our way. And, that's why we conceded those goals. Those mistakes were small mistakes. It wasn't unfixable. That's why as I said we try to improve everyday and we make sure we perform like tonight. Then, it will be difficult for other teams to defeat us."
The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers will begin from September 5 and India will clash swords against a team from Pot B at home in their first fixture. The Blue Tigers' previous campaign was nothing less than a disaster as they won just one match and lost the remaining seven.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has assured the Indian football team well-wishers that the players will give their best on the pitch. They have improved gradually and can expect a better outing.
"The fans can expect a better performance from India in the World Cup Qualifiers. Everyone here is hoping for that and we try to give our best on the pitch. I am sure if we keep performing like the way we have tonight, it doesn't matter who we face. We just need to make sure we believe in ourselves, believe in our system and try to help each other on the pitch. If that happens, the chances are that we are going to play better."
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu asserted his position as India's No. 1 under the bar with his brilliant performance against Syria on Tuesday. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, it was the Punjabi lad's heroics under the bar against Iran in both home and away fixtures that India lost by margins of only three or four goals.
India has grown leaps and bounds since then, but all eyes should be on Gurpreet in case the defense and midfield look clueless against quality oppositions.