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World Cup 2022 Qualifier: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu - Teams like Bangladesh are hard to beat

18:41 SAST 2019/10/13
Gurpreet Singh
The Indian goalkeeper is hoping that other players will step up in Sandesh Jhingan's absence at the back...

India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has stressed that Bangladesh cannot be taken lightly when the two teams meet at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, on Tuesday.

Fellow Group E contestants Bangladesh have lost their first two games but the Bengaluru FC goalie feels they will be hard to beat.

"It's a challenge for sure because no team can be taken lightly. Bangladesh play with confidence and heart and teams like that are hard to beat. We will try to make fewer mistakes, play as a team and try to win the match," he told reporters on the sidelines of India's practice session on Sunday.

The Blue Tigers lost their opener 2-1 against Oman and put on a valiant display against Qatar to hold the Asian champions to a goalless draw, with Gurpreet playing a crucial role in goal. 

"I expected to win against Qatar. I don't think it was a dream performance, it's my job. I have played such games before. It's just that it came against a big opponent. You have to move on and try to replicate that. It helped the boys in gaining self-confidence.

"Many young boys played and some players like Nikhil (Poojary) and Mandar (Rao Dessai) played after a long time, that too against Qatar. For them, it meant a lot as they could show their worth against a big team," the 27-year-old said.

Gurpreet heaped praise on India's goalkeeping coaches Rogerio Ramos and Tomislav Rogic. "I have been fortunate enough to see transitions of coaches in the clubs. With Ramos, we got a lot of dynamics in coaching. With Tomislav, it has been a pleasure to work with. Got to learn a lot."

In the absence of injured Sandesh Jhingan, Singh urged the rest of the squad to step up to the occasion and also praised coach Igor Stimac's vision regarding young players on the bench. 

"I hope there are other players to take up the responsibility. Sandesh is of course a very important player and I hope he recovers soon. I think the coach has been very smart from the beginning and gave young players chances. The coaching staff is working on it and we have players to take up that role in Sandesh's absence," he said.

The former East Bengal player has also claimed that the team's mentality has changed when playing abroad. 

"We felt this difference from the Kyrgyzstan game, then at the Myanmar and Cambodia games. We were told that India doesn't do well away from home. That's when we started believing we can do well away. Results like that made us believe we can do well outside India," Singh said.

"Fans are very important I would urge them to come and support us as their support is paramount. I am very excited about that," he signed off.