Gurpreet Singh Sandhu: We will play to win
The Blue Tigers begin their joint FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualification campaign on Thursday with a match against Oman at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. India have been drawn in Group E alongside Oman, Qatar, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The challenge is the biggest one facing India and new head coach Igor Stimac since he took over and a good start against Oman can go a long way in helping the team realise the nation's World Cup dreams. India last faced Oman in an international friendly back in December 2018 and held them to a goalless draw.
Ahead of the fixture, national team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu shared his thoughts about the match and the current state of the team. Here are the excerpts:
What difference do you see in the squad from the last time India faced Oman?
A lot has changed. We have a new squad with new players and a different coach. I think it’s good to keep in mind what happened with Oman but it’s also important to be focussed on the job ahead and make sure that we put in a good show.
What is the mood in the Indian National team camp, on and off the pitch?
I think off the pitch, it has been pretty much the same, which is a good thing as you want to continue the good things that have been happening with the national team off the pitch. On the pitch, we just try to do what is asked by the coach and we try to perform our best.
Your thoughts on the Oman squad that has travelled to Guwahati?
They (Oman) have very talented players. Personally, I will miss Ali al-Habsi because I have a good friendship with him. Watching him play was always a treat. I would just want to wish Oman all the best for the rest of the qualifiers as well.
How is the team approaching this joint-qualifying match against Oman?
We will go out and try to play and win. That’s what we do and we will play to our strengths and keep Oman at bay, and who knows, maybe we can take all three points.
Check out the Match Preview here.