By Gaurav Sharma
New Delhi, June 12: Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who had a brilliant outing in the Intercontinental Cup, especially in the final, credited his stint in the Indian Super League (ISL) with Bengaluru FC for his success.
Gurpreet conceded just one goal during the Intercontinental Cup, which featured New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and Kenya apart from hosts India. In the summit clash with Kenya, Gurpreet made a couple of brilliant saves to help India to a convincing victory.
“The training in the Indian Super League helped me a lot. I had a great ISL season. A huge credit goes to the goalkeeping coach and head coach of Bengaluru FC,” Gurpreet told IANS.
“I had to go through some gruelling goalkeeping drills and stretches which helped me make those saves. My height helps me get that reach, so it is a combination of all those factors,” the 26-year-old added.
Gurpreet also revealed that having strong wrists and forearms is essential to become a good goalkeeper.
“It is very important to have good strong wrists and forearms to have good strong hands to try stopping and catching shots coming at fast speeds,” the Red Bull athlete said.
“I think mobility and flexibility is very important for the arms when you are a goalkeeper and I do various strength exercises specially in the gym to strengthen the more important parts of my arms, be it shoulder,wrist and even fingers because the slightest of touches can be the difference between saving a goal or not,” he added.
Next year, India will feature in the 17th edition of the Asian Cup where the Men in Blue have been placed in group A along with United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Bahrain.
When asked about his expectations at the Asian Cup, Gurpreet said: “We are high on confidence after the win in the Intercontinental Cup. Yes, we are in a tough group, so we go into the tournament as underdogs.”
“But we will try to put our best foot forward and take this momentum with us in the Asian Cup. We have to get back to the drawing board and set up tactics for the teams we will play in the Asian Cup as we are in a tough group,” he added.
The Chandigarh-born player also talked about Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri, who has equalled Argentine superstar Lionel Messi’s tally of 64 international goals.
“He has been a legend of Indian football and his hunger for scoring goals never goes away. He always steps up to the big occasion and it is a great achievement for him to equal Messi’s record. We can consider ourselves lucky to have a player and captain like him,” Gurpreet said.
(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)