Gurpreet: 'Not going to be easy for India in the Asian Cup'

In 2011, India lost all three of its matches and exited in the group stage of the AFC Asian Cup.

India goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu, who attended the launch function of RFC Football Academy’s residential academy on Saturday.   -  Special Arrangement

India goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu believes that the national team has received a favourable draw for the 2019 UAE AFC Asian Cup, in comparison to the 2011 edition.

“If you compare it to the 2011 draw - where we were placed with Australia, South Korea and Bahrain - it's not as bad. But then, this time, we have UAE, Thailand and Bahrain - all good sides. It's not going to be easy for us,” Gurpreet, who attended the launch function of RFC Football Academy’s residential academy, here, on Saturday, said.

In 2011, India lost all three of its matches and exited in the group stage. The national team did not qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

READ: AFC Asian Cup: Constantine believes India can qualify for knockouts

In a few weeks, the Indian team will compete in a four-nation Intercontinental Cup, in Mumbai. Gurpreet is pleased that the international break is being put to good use. “It’s good to play matches before the Asian Cup, especially against teams like South Africa and New Zealand, who have World Cup experience. We have to make sure that we use the tournament exposure well. I hope that we keep using all the international windows available in the year. If we use every single international window, from now until the beginning of the Asian Cup, we can target at least two games per window. That rounds up to about six to eight games,” Gurpreet said.

On fellow custodian Dheeraj Singh, who impressed for the Indian team at the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup and is currently on trial at Scottish club Motherwell FC, Gurpreet said, “Dheeraj is young, and he's at a place where he's getting decent training. He's going to develop at a faster rate than I or others did. It's going to be very good in the future when he comes to the national team and helps us.”

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