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3-min read

There's a Reason Why Sunil Chhetri is the Best Indian Footballer, Says Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Like his captain Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu too has had a fantastic return to Indian football with seven clean sheets and a minutes per goals conceded of just less than two hours.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:March 13, 2018, 10:28 AM IST
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There's a Reason Why Sunil Chhetri is the Best Indian Footballer, Says Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Bengaluru FC's Gurpreet Singh Sandhu with captain Sunil Chhetri (Image: Gurpreet Singh/Facebook)
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New Delhi: Consider the fact that Sunil Chhetri promised his teammates that he would chip Vishal Kaith down the middle if they won a penalty in the second leg of their semi-final against FC Pune City, and mind you he did so with aplomb. Looking on, it would be hard to not marvel at the confidence and the courage of the man as he went for the kill.

With 13 goals to his name, Chhetri is the highest scoring Indian in the competition this season, not entirely unexpected given the fact that he is by far the best marksman in the country.

“Sunil Chhetri is equal to commitment and competitiveness. He will not give you an inch if you’re on the other side, and will push you to the limit to bring the best out of you,” says teammate Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

It did not take too much time for India’s most prolific attacker to earn himself the reputation of being a man for the big occasions. Whether it is club or country, Chhetri has been the central figure around more triumphant stories any in his generation.

“He goes into match day mode two or three days before the game. There is great attention to detail when he is preparing for the game which is why he is the best we have at the moment,” points out Singh.

Like his captain, Gurpreet too has had a fantastic return to Indian football with seven clean sheets and a minutes per goals conceded of just less than two hours. “When we go through our shooting drills, Sunil bhai and I make it a point to push each other. To the extent that if he can’t score against me I get to have a laugh and it works vice versa,” says the man who is India’s number one goalkeeper at this point in time.

Gurpreet returned to the country before the start of the season in August in 2017 when he signed with Bengaluru FC after three years in Norway with Stabaek FC, where he became the only Indian to play in the UEFA Europa League. The former East Bengal man was welcomed with much fanfare and enthusiasm and to his credit he has responded in the best way known to him.

“I did not start the season as strongly as I would have liked to and my biggest challenge became getting used to the increased amount of game time,” he says reflecting on his stint so far before adding that he had to work his way through the hurdles one at a time before he settled down.

“There was no choice but to come to terms with it. What has helped is the fact that we’ve performed well and that truly reflects in my performances which would not have been possible without a team effort.”

Gurpreet is one game away from winning his first trophy with Bengaluru FC, who themselves are in line to make it five titles in five years. But there was a raised eyebrow after the goalless first leg of the semi-final.

“When the second leg came about, we were aware of what was required and were confident. The electric atmosphere at the Sri Kanteerava Stadium also helped,” he quips.

Gurpreet and the rest of the Bengaluru FC squad are understandably elated at have reached the final of the competition at the first go. When quizzed about whom he’d rather face during their first Indian Super League final which will be played in their own backyard, Gurpreet didn’t hesitate to pick Sergio Lobera’s FC Goa over Chennaiyin FC.

“To be honest, a free flowing side like FC Goa will come at us hard and that will give us space to hit them on the counter,” says the goal keeper while also adding that the defensive unit will need to be strong.

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| Edited by: Abhimanyu Sen
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