Praises for goalkeeper Gurpreet
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu received praises for his performance although the Sunil Chhetri-led Indian football team has fallen 0-1 to Asian champions Qatar in the preliminary qualifying matches for the Qatar 2022 World Cup and China 2023 Asian Cup.
Qatar winger Abdelkarim Hassan told Sandhu after the match that he was fit to play in the Premier League, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said in a statement on Friday.
“You should be playing in the Premier League – you are good enough. What are you doing here?” Abdelkarim, who was repeatedly disappointed with Sandhu during Thursday night’s match, said in a statement.
“The next time we play again, I will score past you,” said the 27-year-old from Qatar and moved to the dressing room adding “Great job man. You are too good”.
To this Gurpreet commented “I have had good outings. But I’ve never had an opposition team player come to me and say that I am good enough to play in a big league. That’s a huge compliment.”
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez admitted that India is a difficult team to beat. “We scored about 25 shots in the match and the goalkeeper did a great job once again. He was great under the bar and made a huge difference. Next time we play again, we won’t allow it to be at our best.”
Sandhu said that though he did not count the number of defenses he had made, it was enough. “I did not count the number of saves. But I feel it was more than last time,” he said, referring to the 2019 2022 World Cup qualifiers when India tied Qatar without a goal.
“We played with 10-men for the most part of the match. But we had our chances too. Against such quality opposition like Qatar, such chances come very rarely. We need to take them,” Sandhu added.
Former India goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who plays for SC East Bengal, lauded Sandhu. He said, “I have to hug Gurpreet for the way he has brought so much color. When an opponent team is constantly attacking, it’s easy for that split second to lose focus. But he is my special boy”.