Name: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Club: Bengaluru FC
National Team caps: 26
The captain without the armband will be an influential figure in the defence as he marshals the line in front of him and organises the back-four. Sandhu remains the best keeper in India and his experience in Norway will surely help the team. The custodian is good in the air and can boast of good reflexes. His distribution and ability to find the wide players upfront with a lobbed pass will be crucial for India's build-up.
For all his virtues, Sandhu also has a few vices that can prove costly for India. The Chamkaur-born finds it hard to get down quickly and save low-driven shots. Sandhu must also be careful not to be caught off his line like he was during India’s friendly against Jordan.
The Blue Tigers did well to hold fort against China away from home in a friendly as part of their AFC Asian Cup preparations. At the heart of a resilient defence stood Gurpreet, India’s best performer on the night. The custodian was at his brilliant best and stopped everything that came his way, including a save on the goal-line and a few from point-blank range.
Gurpreet has a part of the best defence in the Indian Super League if statistics are anything to go by. Conceding a goal once in 123.75 minutes, the Bengaluru FC keeper is leading the race for the Golden Glove award. However, it remains to be seen if Gurpreet can build on this and provide similar numbers with the national team. The Indian defence might not be as potent as that of Bengaluru FC and the opponents in the Asian Cup will surely be more threatening than the ones he has put up with in the Indian Super League.