It’s been over four years since India’s shocking loss to a tiny pacific nation Guam in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The team has moved on and in fact, has come a long way becoming a tough nut to crack, feels first-choice India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
However, their most recent outing was a disappointment to say the least. Against a lower-ranked Bangladesh, India escaped with a 1-1 draw in a second round qualifying match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
This was after they held Asian champion and 2022 hosts Qatar in a goalless draw. “I think, of late, we have turned ourselves into a team which is tough to beat. We just have to add something more to it which is scoring to get the points on the table and we have that quality,” Gurpreet told PTI.
“I think if we compare it with the 2015 qualifiers that we played, we have come a long way since then. We have two points on the table and have only lost one game which also we could have won. I am happy but not satisfied because I know we have the potential to do more,” he added.
Afghanistan and Oman are India’s next two opponents in the qualifiers. While acknowledging the games aren’t going to be easy, Sandhu said the team will have to get something positive out of those fixtures.
“Both games are difficult. Oman are a very good side and have quality players, whereas Afghanistan will be tough to play against in Tajikistan. But we have to go there with a strong approach to get something out of the two games,” he said.
Sandhu praised India national coach Igor Stimac for introducing young blood and is hopeful of the youngster’s progress with time. “We have grown stronger with the introduction of the young players who will improve with time,” he said.
He though feels the squad is yet to get settled to the new system. “Yes, the team is getting accustomed with the system but most importantly getting used to each other as well playing with the ball,” Sandhu said.
India are yet to win a game in the ongoing qualifiers and are scheduled to next face Afghanistan on November 15 and Oman on November 20.