News Live Scores
WC Qualification Asia

World Cup 2022 qualifiers: Igor Stimac defends Gurpreet Singh Sandhu after horrendous error

20:47 EAT 15/10/2019
Gurpreet Singh
The India head coach failed to pass the blame for a listless draw against Bangladesh on to his goalkeeper who had a forgettable day...

India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu should not be blamed after his mistake cost the Blue Tigers in an insipid 1-1 draw against Bangladesh in a crunch 2022 World Cup qualifier in Kolkata, felt coach Igor Stimac.

The Croatian coach saw his side fall behind in the first half after Gurpreet came out to collect a Bangladeshi freekick into his area and missed it altogether, allowing Saad Uddin to head into an empty net.

The Blue Tigers struggled to break down a compact Bangladeshi defence and had to wait until Adil Khan rescued a point with a header late on.

Despite the disappointing nature of the result, Stimac refused to blame his goalkeeper, who had put in a man of the match performance in India's previous game against Qatar.

"That’s a goalkeeper’s life. Sometimes you have a great day and the other times you make judgemental errors. But we can’t blame him because that should’ve been a foul in the first place. We’re not here to accuse anyone in the dressing room. I will defend them with all my heart. We must work on removing our errors," he explained.

The 52-year-old also reiterated that there are more games to play before the group (consisting of Qatar, Afghanistan and Oman as well) is decided and India should not be disheartened by the result.

"Many points are on the table to be taken. That was one of points I made in the dressing room to make our players understand we have games ahead. I gave them the options of whether to take this as a man or quit fighting it. There are many points to be taken ahead and we’ll fight to get those. It’s obvious that there will be some more upsets in this group."

Stimac also felt that India were too slow in the first half and failed to assert their supremacy against a resolute Bangladeshi defence.

"In the first half, we were too slow from passing down the channels. For that reason, nogaps were opening beween their lines."

The coach went on to explain his substitutions where he decided to throw caution to the winds and bring on attackers for defenders in a bid to win the game.

"When I changed Mandar Rao Dessai for Brandon Fernandes, I had enough speed with Ashique Kuruniyan on the left and another player in the middle. I thought we could
handle the risk of playing three at the bank. What we didn’t do well is that Brandon didn’t link with Ashique as well as he could’ve. Anirudh Thapa made a few consecutive mistakes with a lack of energy and so I needed to bring him off.

"Raynier Fernandes came back after having a good pre-season camp with Mumbai City and he showed a lot of energy. I was sure he could do the job for us and pass the ball into the flanks. We needed to score so I felt we needed more space on the right, hence we brought on Lallianzuala Chhangte to open spaces for Udanta Singh. The substituties improved the quality of our game. That was what we were looking for.

"I’m very sorry that we couldn’t get all three points today."