Gurpreet: Not afraid of any opponent in Asian Qualifiers for WC

Indian footballers are currently attending a training camp in Goa in preparation for the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup against Oman and Qatar.

Gurpreet, who has 33 caps international caps, is the first-choice goalkeeper in the Indian team.   -  Twitter @IndianFootball

On a high after winning the Arjuna Award, Indian football team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is ready to give his best for the national side in the second round of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, and feels the young side is a confident bunch and isn’t scared of tougher opponents.

India will take on Oman in Guwahati on September 5 and then play Asian champion Qatar away on September 10 in one of the most difficult games in the campaign. The other two teams in India’s group E are Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

“The first two games are difficult but according to me, every single game is going to be difficult,” Gurpreet told IANS, from Goa where the national team is holding its preparatory camp.

“So, we just need to make sure that we play to our strengths and get something out of these two games to start with. We should have a lot of self confidence and belief in our abilities,” said the 27-year-old.

Asked if the opening two fixtures are the toughest, the Bengaluru FC player said, “I cannot predict the future just like anyone else. But all I can say is that we will give our best when we step on the pitch. As we have shown in the past, we can win games and give tough time to tough opponents.”

India, ranked 103rd in the world, took on Oman in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, too, and lost 1-2 in Bengaluru and 0-3 away. Under new coach Igor Stimac, India is still settling down with the Croatian keen on blooding youngsters.

“When a new mentality comes in, it takes time for them to adjust and gain knowledge about what they have at their disposal. That’s what we saw in the first five games (under Stimac),” said Gurpreet.

“The coach has said that he knows now what we have and what we don’t have. So I guess that is what is there.”