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Friendlies with Quality Teams Ideal Preparation for AFC Asian Cup: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

India’s first-choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu feels a good number of international friendlies against difficult opponents will hold the national team in good stead going into the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

PTI

Updated:September 30, 2018, 3:01 PM IST
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Friendlies with Quality Teams Ideal Preparation for AFC Asian Cup: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
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India’s first-choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu feels a good number of international friendlies against difficult opponents will hold the national team in good stead going into the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

India are set to play China in October in an international friendly, the first time in 21 years and the first away from home.

For some time, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has also been trying to get a match arranged against Saudi Arabia.

Both China (76) and Saudi Arabia (71) are ranked higher than India (97) in the FIFA charts, and matches against such teams are exactly what Gurpreet and his teammates were looking forward to.

“Facing China is very good news for us. It gives a chance to test ourselves against a good opponent. We have tried to develop into a fighting unit in the last three-four years and we need to use the available windows,” Gurpreet told PTI during a chat.

“Maybe four to five friendlies against good teams will be an ideal preparation. But it also comes down to teams’ availability and willingness. The AIFF is doing a good job as we try to prepare ourselves for stiff competition from strong opponents.

Asked about murmurs that a few senior players are having “issues” with chief coach Stephen Constantine, Gurpreet said that he doesn’t have any problem with the gaffer.

“There are good things that come out (in the media), and there are also bad things. See, the coach is giving us results, we have proved it in the last few years. For me, he is a great coach, and knows what is required.”

Gurpreet, who plays for Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL), said his team has moved from the heartbreaking defeat in last season’s final against Chennaiyin FC are keen on delivering the goods in the ongoing ISL season that started on Saturday.

“The training has been going good, there are no major injury worries. Though I was down with chicken pox in the initial phase of our pre-season tour of Spain, I managed to play the games against Villarreal and Barcelona B, which was my aim. You look forward to playing against such teams and put up a good show,” Gurpreet signed off.
| Edited by: Shayne Dias
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