Gurpreet Singh Sandhu: 'At BFC, we want to be the best in India, Asia'

The Bengaluru FC goalkeeper talks of the transition from Norwegian club Stabekk Fotball to Bengaluru FC and improving his distribution from the back.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had a tough outing against Delhi Dynamos this past ISL season, but recovered to help Bengaluru FC lift its maiden title.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

Around a month ago, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu entered the field against Delhi Dynamos in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter with plenty at stake. Gurpreet was eager to put on a show at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, as his mother was in attendance. It was her first time in the stands, to see her son in action.

It should have been a special occasion, but things went awry. The Bengaluru FC custodian had a horrid outing, letting two innocuous shots from Delhi Dynamos’ Daniel Lalhlimpuia slip through his hands and into the goal. BFC went down 2-3 after holding a 2-1 advantage, leaving Gurpreet heartbroken.

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Sunil Chhetri lent a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. “It was an emotional day, because Gurpreet felt that he let his mother down. I could feel his pain. Usually, Gurpreet is superb with these sorts of shots. Miku and I struggle to score against him in training. It was just an off day,” Chhetri said, “But he turned it around, and that’s what matters.”

Gurpreet was indeed quick to set the disappointment aside, returning to his sturdy best through the remainder of BFC’s title-winning campaign. He finished second on the list of goalkeepers with the highest number of saves in the tournament - behind Mumbai City’s
Amrinder Singh – and picked up the ‘Golden Glove' award for minutes per goal conceded (96.32).

“One of my goalkeeping coaches had told me that a good goalkeeper should have a short memory. If you obsess over a mistake, it doesn’t help at all. Yes, the mistakes I made against Delhi were disappointing, but after I worked on it with my coaches, all self-doubt was dispelled,” Gurpreet explained.

Gurpreet joined BFC from Norwegian club Stabekk Fotball in 2017, but the transition was not smooth. In his early days at the club, his distribution of the ball was not up to the mark, “Paaji (Sunil Chhetri) knows that I wasn’t great at passing the ball from the back,”
Gurpreet stated, evoking laughter from Chhetri, who was sitting beside him.

“I took on the challenge and improved that aspect of my game. Now, to pass and start the attack from the back is the kind of football I like to play too,” Gurpreet said.

BFC’s winning mentality also fits well with Gurpreet’s persona. “At BFC, we want to be the best in India and Asia. It’s all we live and breathe for,” Gurpreet said.

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