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We need to use this opportunity to perform and learn from this experience- Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Written by: Sabin Castelino

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The shot-stopper talks about the tournament in Mumbai, what it takes to succeed abroad and the importance of team bonding,

After having trained in the summer heat of Mumbai, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had a sit down with the media to indulge in an honest chat about the national team, the Intercontinental Cup and all things football.

On being asked how he views the opportunity to play strong opposition in the Intercontinental Cup, he said, “I think this is a very good chance for us to start building up for the Asian Cup games. We have very good opposition and we are lucky to have very good opposition coming in India and giving us games."

“We need to use this opportunity and make sure that we perform and learn from this experience. Because New Zealand, Kenya and Chinese Taipei are good teams and we need to learn from this and start building up for the Asian Cup.”



Gurpreet is affirmative of India's chances in the Intercontinental Cup

The discussion then led to the point of major improvements that the Indian team need and he added, “You can't point out one specific area. We need to work on everything. We have been decent defensively. If you see the number of goals we have conceded, it has decreased.

"The goalkeeper is one of few Indians to have played abroad and when asked about his experience he shed light on his time in Norway and also spoke about fellow custodian, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem. “When I went outside, being the only one at that point, of course it was, but I don’t think as a player it should affect you. That was what I was thinking about and I hope Dheeraj is doing the same.”

He then went on to speak about what it takes to settle as a player in Europe saying, “I think you need to be mentally strong. Anyone who wants to go outside should be mentally strong. On the pitch you can catch and train hard to catch up and it took me two years to catch up and outperform the others.

“But, I stuck there for two years because of my mentality and anyone who has to go has to be strong mentally,” he reaffirmed

The discussion then led to who would be a worthy successor to him and if he sees anyone filling his shoes anytime soon. He added, “Being the first choice so far has been good for me."

“But, I can’t take my place for granted and that’s what the case has been for the last two years and whoever the next goalkeeper is, I hope he is better than me, that’s what I want. If he is better than me that I will be very very happy. I have high hopes from Dheeraj. He is a very good prospect.”

Emphasizing on the need for good communication with the back four he added, “I think it is very very crucial for us to have good communication at the back and as I said in the past two-three years we have improved in defence and producing good performances for the team is much more of a priority for us.”


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On the shape of the current team and the crucial trust factor he added, “The greater amount of time you spend with the team, it’s much better and it increases the coordination, communication and trust between the players.”

He further added, “I have very very good communication with Sandesh (Jhingan), Anas (Edathodika) and Pritam (Kotal) and whoever comes in. My main coordination and communication is only with the centre-backs and if I control them, and tell them and they control the others. This makes their lives easy and my life easy too.”

On being asked about his intimidating stature which most oppositions fear, he exclaimed, “That’s the purpose! We just need to stick to our strong points. If they are good physically, I don’t think we are bad as well. We are good on set-pieces and we can take advantage of that."

Speaking about the coordination he has with Captain Fantastic, Sunil Chettri he said, “I think me and Sunil Bhai have a very very good connection. There are times when he needs motivation and I try to help him out and there are times when I need motivation, be it off the pitch or on the pitch and he helps me out.”

Lastly he spoke about the Blue Pilgrims initiative as he proudly said, “I think without the fans we are nothing and we need to make sure we perform for them whenever they turn out, because that’s what they deserve and the national team needs their support."

“Without them, the national team is incomplete. It’s a very good initaitative the fans have taken to form the Blue Pilgrims because all sets of fans have come together and come to watch the national team.”

Published: Thu May 31, 2018 01:27 PM IST

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