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We must go into Asian Cup as underdogs, says Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu says India need to take it one game it at a time in the FAC Asian Cup and take it from there.

football Updated: May 30, 2018 21:21 IST
Sarthak Bal
Sarthak Bal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu,AFC Asian Cup,2019 AFC Asian Cup
India are placed in group A in AFC Asian Cup.(HT PHOTO)

India custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu believes that the team must go into the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, where they have been paired with Thailand, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Group A, as underdogs.

Next year’s competition hosted by UAE will mark only India’s fourth participation in tournament, the last coming in 2011.

Sandhu feels India must aim for the best despite four best third-placed nations from the six groups also progressing to the round of 16, alongside the top-two.

“I say we need to aim for the best. But we can’t take things for granted. We need to go in as the underdogs and keep our head down, play one game at a time and take it from there,” Sandhu said as he continues his preparations for the upcoming Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai.

“We cannot sit here and plan how and which teams to win points against. We have to focus on our first game on Thailand for starters and then move forward.”

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“We can’t be complacent and we need to work hard. If we do not give it our all, give it our best then it will be very tough. Thailand, Bahrain and UAE (the host nation) -- people think the teams aren’t good – they’re very good. I think UAE and Thailand missed the World Cup marginally. But we need to be at our best.”

Talking about the importance of the four-nation series starting June 1 in Mumbai, and the team’s preparations for it, the shot-stopper from Punjab said: “I think it is a very good chance for us to start building up for the Asian Cup. We are very lucky to have good teams coming to India and giving us this opportunity. It is for us to use them as a learning curve and perform.”

India will host Kenya, Chinese Taipei and New Zealand in the week-long tournament.

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“You cannot point out one specific area. You have to work on everything. But we have been decent defensively. If you look at the number of goals we have conceded, it has decreased, and that was the aim. But now we need to take this opportunity try and experimenting on areas we need to improve,” added the 26-year-old.

Asked about India’s counter to Kenya’s physicality he said: “If they are good physically then we are not bad as well. We are good on set pieces and we can take advantage of that. I think Kenya is a very good side. They are physical as well. So we just need to stick to our strong points.”

First Published: May 30, 2018 21:10 IST