Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has received appreciation for his performance despite the Sunil Chhetri-led Indian football team going down 0-1 to Asian champions Qatar in a World Cup Qatar 2022 and Asian Cup China 2023 preliminary Round 2 qualification match.
Qatar’s top wing-back Abdelkarim Hassan told Sandhu after the match that he was good to play in the English Premier League, said an All India Football Association (AIFF) press release on Friday.
“You should be playing in the Premier League; you are good enough. What are you doing here?” said Abdelkarim, who was thwarted several times by Sandhu during the match on Thursday night contest, according to the release.
“Great job man. You are too good. The next time we play, I will score past you,” the 27-year-old Qatar player was quoted as saying.
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez acknowledged India were a “difficult team to beat”.
“We generated around 25 shots in the match and the goalkeeper played a great game once again. He was very good under the bar and made a huge difference. The next time we play again, we will not allow him to be at his best,” he said.
Sandhu said that though he didn’t count the number of saves he made, it was quite a lot.
“I didn’t count the number of saves. But I feel it was more than the last time,” he referring to the World Cup 2022 Qualifiers match in 2019 when India held Qatar to a goalless draw.
“We played with 10-men for most part of the match [on Thursday]. But we had our chances too. Against such quality opposition, such chances come very rare. We need to take them,” felt Sandhu.
Former India goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who plays for SC East Bengal, applauded Sandhu.
“I need to hug Gurpreet for the manner in which he came out with such flying colours. When a rival team is attacking relentlessly, it’s easy to lose concentration for that split second. But he is my special boy,” he said from Kolkata.