How custodians picked in India’s squad for Oman and UAE friendlies fared in Hero ISL 2020-21
Plenty of players were rewarded for their strong displays in Hero Indian Super League 2020-21 by receiving call-ups to the national team ahead of India’s friendlies against Oman and UAE later this month. Head coach Igor Stimac rewarded players who enjoyed a solid Hero ISL 2020-21 campaign with some of them getting their first-ever call-up to the senior national team and here we have a look at the performances of the goalkeepers – who are a part of the 27-member Indian squad – in the recently concluded season.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Bengaluru FC and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu endured a season to forget but the India’s first-choice goalkeeper was never a doubt as far as his place in the senior squad was concerned. Playing behind an uncertain defence with the Blues, Gurpreet managed to keep just four clean sheets in Hero ISL 2020-21 and was fourth in the leaderboard for saves (58). He had a save percentage of 69.87% and caught the ball 129 times besides also completing 39 clearances. Despite an underwhelming campaign by Gurpreet’s standards, Stimac knows the qualities that the Indian custodian possesses, which is why he’s a part of the squad for the friendlies.
Amrinder Singh enjoyed a fine season, lifting both the League Winners Shield and the Hero ISL title with Mumbai City FC. He had a save percentage of 74.39%, kept 10 clean sheets and made 61 saves – the second best in the league. The Indian custodian also had to adapt to the Islanders’ style of play under Sergio Lobera that focuses on playing out from the back and even though he admitted that it was a challenge for him, Amrinder finished the season looking comfortable with the ball at his feet. It was a learning curve for Amrinder, who is expected to play a similar brand of football under Stimac with India.
Subhasish Roy Chowdhury
Subhasish Roy Chowdhury started the first three games for NorthEast United FC in Hero ISL 2020-21, keeping a clean sheet and conceding thrice as the Highlanders remained unbeaten in those games and picked up five out of a possible nine points. However, he wasn’t a part of most NorthEast United FC starting line-ups following those games and only reclaimed his spot in the side after interim coach Khalid Jamil took charge of the Highlanders. He quickly became Jamil’s first-choice and played a big role in the Highlanders’ run to the semi-finals. The 34-year-old ended the season with a save percentage of 56.52% and made 26 saves, besides also keeping three clean sheets and catching the ball 72 times. A seasoned campaigner, Subhasish will be hoping to impart some of his experience in the Indian camp.
The youngest goalkeeper in the 27-man squad, Dheeraj Singh will do well to watch and learn from his senior compatriots both on and off the pitch. After struggling for game time with ATK Mohun Bagan in the first half of the season, Dheeraj joined FC Goa in the winter transfer window and quickly became first-choice for the Gaurs. Even though he played a role in some lapses initially, FC Goa’s coach Juan Ferrando kept his faith in the youngster and he was rewarded with some top-notch showings from Dheeraj towards the business end of the campaign. His performances helped the Gaurs qualify for the semi-finals as Dheeraj finished the season with a save percentage of 57.14%. He also kept two clean sheets and made 16 saves in his nine matches with the Gaurs and will only get better with age in the years to come.