India’s Gurpreet Singh Sandhu promises to keep raising the bar!

After arriving in Kolkata in high spirits on Wednesday, the Indian senior men’s team held their first training session in Kolkata on Thursday evening. With less than a week to go for the all-important FIFA World Cup Qualifiers clash against Kuwait at the Salt Lake Stadium, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu shared his thoughts from the Blue Tigers camp.

India had started training in Bhubaneswar on May 11 before travelling to Kolkata.

“It has been a lot of hard work as most of us started this camp after coming from a couple of week’s break, but we have grown in physical and mental fitness throughout the days together,” said the goalkeeper.

The Blue Tigers felt the warm support and love of the Kolkata fans from the minute they landed in the city of joy. Right from the airport, to the hotel, and the training ground as well, fans have been voicing their support and cheering the team on. All of this is no surprise for Gurpreet, who has been fortunate enough to play several national team matches in Kolkata, while also donning the gloves for East Bengal between 2009 and 2014.

“Fan support is never a question when we mention Kolkata. You can see the passion, the demand, and the love for the game, and our job is to play our best football to justify people sacrificing their daily lives to come see us – be it at the airport or the stadium,” said the custodian.

Igor Stimac and his boys will certainly need to be at their best to overcome Kuwait, who they beat 1-0 in the away fixture back on the opening matchday in the group. The West Asians are currently on three points, having beaten Afghanistan, and lost twice to Qatar since then. Should India beat them, they will be eliminated from World Cup qualifying, putting the Blue Tigers on the brink of qualification for the third round.

“The game on the 6th is going to be a very challenging one because of the opposition, who are obviously a good team with good players. We are studying them closely to make sure there is no room for error. I hope there are more games like this in the future as well of the same stature because we want to keep pushing the bar higher,” said Gurpreet.

The bar will be pushed into heights never reached before if India qualify for the third round of World Cup Qualifiers for the first time ever. It would mean 10 more matches against the best in Asia over the course of a year, not to forget direct qualification for the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027.

“The third round is a place we have never reached before and are desperate to go to. Doing that will not just mean qualification for the next round, but also a direct slot into the next Asian Cup, which I think is immensely important because that is a stage where we want to be regulars (It would be India’s third successive Asian Cup qualification). Whatever happens for the sport in the country is in the hands of the people. What we can do is give our hearts out there to win,” concluded Gurpreet.

The match between India and Kuwait will be broadcast on Sports 18 1, Sports 18 1 HD, Sports 18 3, and streamed live on JioCinema, on June 6, 2024, at 19:00 IST.

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