Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is of the opinion that Indian football has developed a lot mostly in the last five years. The Indian goalkeeper has also stated that he can see an improvement in the mentality of the members of the senior national team now, and that the team is on the right track.
The Indian football team is currently playing the four-nation Intercontinental Cup in Ahmedabad. This is the same tournament which the Indian side, led by Sunil Chhetri, won in 2018 at the Mumbai Football Arena. However, in the current edition, the Blue Tigers suffered a defeat against Tajikistan in the first game.
Meanwhile, India’s custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has opined that the team has done really well in the last few years and that the development in Indian football can be seen which has taken place in around last five years.
"We have grown a lot, especially in the last 5 years. I have personally seen the young talent that we have. Our youth teams – the U16s, U15s -- the players possess great technical abilities, and have great awareness. The senior players have grown in terms of their mentalities as well,” Sandhu was quoted as saying by the AIFF official website.
The Intercontinental Cup is the second tournament under the guidance of Igor Stimac, who is testing it out with more youngsters in the senior national side. After giving a chance to six young men to make their international debut in the King’s Cup last month, three players played their first international game when India met Tajikistan in the first outing of the ongoing tournament. Sandhu has hailed the decision of the chief coach saying that it is important to have some young blood in the side.
"Having young blood in the team is very important. I feel that the youngsters who have come in through the system are very talented. They are very technically able players who are confident, and know how to play with the ball. It's a really good sight. I hope they lead us through the years to come,” the goalkeeper mentioned.
"The role that the young players have in the team is something very important. What I have learnt from my seniors -- Sunil (Chhetri) bhai and Subrata (Pal) bhai is to lead by example, and make sure you are trying to do the right thing. It is how young people learn and it is important for me. Sandesh (Jhingan) and Sunil bhai, who has been doing it for so many years, to lead by example."
"Right now, it's a transition period. We have a new coach, a new set-up and new players. It is a very crucial period for the team to learn what is required from them, and to make sure that we put it out on the pitch. If we perform with all the tactical awareness that is provided, we can do well.”
In the next match of the tournament on Saturday, India will take on DPR Korea and then they will face Syria in their last match of the league stage. The hosts will look forward to ensuring that they win the next two matches to march ahead, but things will not be that easy for Stimac and his boys.
"India is a big country, and to have connectivity is very important. If you don't go to a certain place, you won't know whether people love the game or not. We have had a great experience here and now we know that people love football here and come to the stadium to watch it. It's a commendable job by the federation to have that kind of connectivity and hope we have more such experiences in the coming years.
"Seeing the turnout against Tajikistan was amazing and a great number of people came to cheer for India. I hope they keep coming to watch us in the next matches as well and we'll try to play our best game as well," Sandhu signed off.
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