Gurpreet Singh Sandhu interview: We knew Bengaluru FC needed to win ISL title trigger shedding two finals in a row would’ve been devastating

In 2016, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made headlines when he grew to become the primary Indian to play within the Europa...

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Gurpreet Singh Sandhu interview: We knew Bengaluru FC had to win ISL title cause losing two finals in a row would've been devastating

In 2016, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made headlines when he grew to become the primary Indian to play within the Europa League, UEFA’s continental event that pits among the prime golf equipment in European leagues in opposition to one another. Fast ahead a 12 months or two, and the imposing goalkeeper has upped sticks and moved on to protecting Bengaluru FC’s sheets as clear as a whistle, choosing up a few main trophies alongside the way in which.

File picture of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Image Courtesy: Red Bull

The latest and maybe most vital of the additions to Gurpreet’s trophy cupboard is the 2018-19 Indian Super League title, with the shot-stopper enjoying a significant function in the Blues’ victorious marketing campaign. The 27-year-old minimize an authoritative determine between the sticks in his second season on the membership, shrewdly marshalling the Bengaluru defence and arising with some large saves when it mattered most.

His exploits in objective additionally led to him successful the ISL Golden Glove, after choosing up seven clear sheets and conceding simply 19 objectives in 20 matches. He managed to make a staggering 61 saves, coming second behind Mumbai’s Amrinder Singh, who topped the listing with 66. Gurpreet additionally recorded essentially the most spectacular minutes per objective ratio within the league, conceding a objective each 96.32 minutes.

His performances this season have been key for Bengaluru, particularly within the last, as they tried to keep away from the errors they made in final 12 months’s decider, which they misplaced 3-2 to Chennaiyin FC after being a objective forward. Gurpreet, who was in objective on that fateful evening one 12 months in the past, admitted that the prospect of faltering on the last hurdle for a second consecutive 12 months would have been an excessive amount of to bear.

“We knew that we wanted to win it because losing two finals in a row would have been absolutely devastating. We felt a lot more ready this time around, we really wanted to go for it. We just focussed on the fact that we were there for a reason, because we had to win it,” Gurpreet informed Firstpost over the telephone.

This time round, nevertheless, Bengaluru fought exhausting to maintain a clear sheet and maintain on to a deserved lead, after going forward within the 117th minute of the match in opposition to Goa. While Gurpreet was hardly ever examined, he put in an assured efficiency as Bengaluru ran out 1-Zero winners and lifted their first-ever ISL trophy.

“We’ve worked hard on improving as a team this season. Everyone has been trying to do as much defensive work as possible. Last year, in the final, it was a couple of set-pieces that got us, so we’ve practised set-pieces over and over,” he added.

Bengaluru’s new-found resilience in defence has been one of many cornerstones of their bid for the title, and far of this may be attributed to the philosophy of their new head coach, Carles Cuadrat. The Spaniard, who was an assistant coach on the membership final season, was promoted to his present place after the departure of Albert Roca, and based on Gurpreet, there was no-one higher suited to the job.

“My experience while working with him (Cuadrat) when he was an assistant coach was good, we had a great working relationship. And when he came in as the head coach, I knew he was the right person, I knew he was the only one who could replace Roca because he knew how the club worked. He’d been here with us, he’d seen us train, and he got us to the title,” Gurpreet mentioned

“Another thing that the manager did that was very beneficial was to make us play friendlies against a couple of Spanish sides,” mentioned Gurpreet, referencing a few pre-season friendlies that the Blues performed in opposition to the reserve sides of Spanish golf equipment Barcelona and Villarreal. “Those friendlies gave us the experience of playing against a slightly different style, which could help us now that we’re in the Asian Cup again,” he added.

Bengaluru’s return to the Asian Cup will see them try to select up from the place they left off — a wonderful run to the 2016 last, which they misplaced to Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya of Iraq,  was adopted by some optimistic outcomes. Another extra instant problem that awaits Cuadrat and his squad is the Indian Super Cup, a event that includes all 20 groups from the ISL and the I-League whose knockout stage begins on 29 March. Bengaluru are the defending champions, and Gurpreet is assured that they will retain their title, saying, “the morale heading into the tournament is great and we really believe we can do it. This tournament is a great opportunity for us to test ourselves against I-League opposition, and we’re backing ourselves to win our second title of the year. And now that we’re back in continental tournaments, I think we can do well. We have a strong squad”

With the facility of hindsight at our disposal, Gurpreet’s choice to swap the frigid winters of Norway for the  unpredictable climes of Bengaluru looks as if a wonderful profession selection, as Bengaluru have gone from power to power since his arrival. However, when he returned to India in 2017, the membership was standing on the precipice of the unknown, having made their transfer from the I-League to the ISL. No-one had anticipated Bengaluru to transition into life as an ISL membership like a fish taking to water, and it could have been fairly comprehensible if Gurpreet had had just a few doubts earlier than becoming a member of the group, however by his personal account, the choice was a no brainer.

“When I came back to India, I knew that it had to be Bengaluru. I’ve always wanted to challenge myself in my career, and I knew that I had to join this team if I wanted to improve as a footballer. I consider myself very lucky that I got the chance to go to Europe, but I’ve grown a lot since then and my plans have also changed. I wanted to play regularly and I wanted to play in the Asian Cup, and that’s one of the main objectives of this team,” mentioned Gurpreet.

Having himself had a chance to play Europe, the goalkeeper is now making an attempt to enhance the publicity of younger athletes to international soccer, and is doing so in his capability as a Red Bull athlete. “Working with Red Bull has been a dream of mine, and I’m really passionate about their ‘Neymar Jr’s 5’ project, a five-a-side tournament aiming to unearth local talent and give them a platform,” mentioned Gurpreet.

“I think it’s great that I went to Europe. I only wish I’d gone sooner, I went by the time I was 22 and maybe I couldn’t get all the benefits that a younger player would have from a system like that. I think that if more young players from India went abroad to learn, we could really improve, you know. I hope someday it’s an actual option for all the young footballers in the country,” he concluded.

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