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ISL 2017-18: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stands tall for Bengaluru FC in Bhubaneshwar

08:02 SAST 2018/02/26
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; FC Jamshedpur v Bengaluru FC
The former Stabaek FC custodian put in a commanding performance in between the sticks to keep a clean sheet against Jamshedpur…

When Bengaluru FC finished their pickings at  the Indian Super League (ISL) domestic players draft in July last year, it wasn’t too difficult to point that goalkeeping was an area in which they weren’t covered very well. They had Lalthuammawia Ralte, Abhra Mondal and Calvin Abhishek as their three goalkeepers.

However, much to the chagrin of other ISL franchises, they managed to get the prized scalp of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. It was a complicated deal for which negotiations continued for at least seven weeks and the player was registered or rather transferred on the final day of the transfer window.

Whether it was worth the effort? Certainly, given the kind of performances dished out by the former East Bengal goalkeeper. When Gurpreet left for Norway, his last season at East Bengal wasn’t a memorable one. He was known to make a world class save following which he was equally capable of spilling a shot into his own net.

However, he may not have found a lot of game-time with the first team at Stabaek but what it has certainly done is improve his game. The version 2.0 of the goalkeeper is one who is confident, not afraid to come out of his line to collect. His presence in between the sticks has a lot to do with Bengaluru FC having the second-best defence in the league.

It wouldn’t be unfair to state that Gurpreet ensured that Jamshedpur came away with no points from the tie. It wasn’t the most commanding display from Albert Roca’s side but Gurpreet showed that on days when the team isn’t able to create as many chances, he is around with his safe pair of hands.

Meanwhile, Steve Coppell’s side needs to win their final home match against FC Goa, who have a game in-hand against ATK. They would hope that the Kolkata side can pull off a surprise against Goa as the latter has never managed to win against them in four seasons of the ISL. In that case, even a draw would suffice for Jamshedpur.

For the Tata Group-owned franchise, they have got certain signings completely wrong. Kervens Belfort has been pathetic to say the least while Anas Edathodika, who is the highest earner among their domestic signings, hasn’t played much with only six starts to his name.

They need to bring their A game against Goa if they harbour any hopes of making it into the knockout stages. For Bengaluru FC, their place at the top of the standings is guaranteed, they have made it into the play-offs, it’s time to let the fringe players have a go against Kerala Blasters on Thursday.