The 27-year-old was all positive despite the Tajikistan loss and is confident going into the next game against DPR Korea.

The 2019 edition of the Hero Intercontinental Cup began on a rather disappointing note, as India went down in their opening game 2-4 against a resilient Tajikistan, who came from two goals down at half-time.

However, this was a newlook Indian team as youngsters dominated the lineup, with only a few familiar names on the list. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was one of the very few experienced players part of the team and had quite a nightmare of a game conceding four goals.

 

Watch: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu thinks it is a transition period for the Blue Tigers under Igor Stimac

Yet as the team and supporters look forward to their next outing against DPR Korea on Saturday, the shot-stopper expressed his opinion on the young team, 

“I think I am lucky enough to have had a lot of experience with the national team. According to me, this is a transition period for us. We have a new coach, new setup and new and very talented young players,” he began. “It takes time when a new mentality and a new system comes in. I think this is a very crucial period for us to learn new things which are required from us. This is a very delicate period, but at the same time it is very important for us,” he added.

The 27-year-old went on to explain about how the team is experiencing a transition from the philosophy of former head coach Stephen Constantine and that of the new coach Igor Stimac. “I think every person has his own system, whatever works for them. Different things worked for Constantine and different things might work for Stimac.”

When asked about how he is adapting to the new system the Bengaluru FC custodian said, “It’s pretty good to be honest. I am not new to this kind of football, keeping the ball and trying to keep possession and playing from the back.”

“It’s not very difficult because I have played in a similar system for the past two years with Bengaluru.” Further praising the young players in the squad Gurpreet said, “It is always good to have young blood. I think the new players that have come from the system are very talented and technically sound. They know how to play the ball and are very confident.”

Teenager Narender Gehlot and Mandar Rao Dessai made their debuts for the national team last time around and recalling his memories during his own first game for the Blue Tigers, Sandhu smilingly said, “It was a really difficult game. We were playing against Iran in Bengaluru and I was very lucky to get that game because I had waited for that chance since five years. Once you have a taste of playing for the national team, you don’t have to lose that.”

Watch: India train ahead of game against DPR Korea

Moving forward to the game against DPR Korea on Saturday the shot-stopper said, “We have done our analysis from the last game and we have seen both the positives and negatives of the same. I think the things that didn’t go right could be corrected and for me it’s nothing much of a problem.”

Gurpreet was a part of Norwegian side Stabaek FC in 2016 and went on to become the  first Indian to play in the UEFA Europa League. Speaking about the necessity for Indian players to play outside the country the goalkeeper said, “It is really important for our players to step out of their comfort zone because in a way it helps a lot in their improvement. I think one of the ways forward for India is to have players playing outside the country because that’s what 95% of the countries in the world have been doing.”

While concluding with the session, the custodian heaped praise on the young goalkeepers in the country including Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Prabhsukhan Gill and Lovepreet Singh saying it is really good to have such talented players in the ranks.