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Back-to-back international commitments very good for India: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

NEW DELHI: Indian football team's first-choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu says there is competition with his challenger Amrinder Singh but winning matches is more important than just being on the pitch for both.

Earlier this year, at the Tri-Nation Cup in Imphal, where India beat Myanmar 1-0 and the Kyrgyz Republic 2-0 to lift the trophy, both Gurpreet and Amrinder jointly won the 'Goalkeeper of the Tournament' award. ''The relation between the players is extremely good. There is competition for places in a way, but we are like brothers, and we all know that either of us can slot in and do the job on a given day,'' Gurpreet said. ''It's an honour to play for the country and whenever given the opportunity, we must do justice to it. Of course, we also help each other be in the right frame for such opportunities whenever they present themselves.

''Overall, the desire is to see the team win, than to just be on the pitch,'' he added.

Playing back-to-back internationals tournaments prior to next year's AFC Asian Cup is ''very good'' for the Indian team, feels Gurpreet.

The team is set to play in a number of matches, with back-to-back international tournaments lined up the Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar, the SAFF Championship in Bengaluru, followed by the Kings Cup in Thailand (September) and the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia (October).

Preparing for the Asian Cup, which is set to be held in January-February in Qatar, the Blue Tigers are hard at work in their training camp in Bhubaneswar ahead of the Intercontinental Cup. Gurpreet believes that it is a great opportunity for players to polish their skills.

''Back-to-back tournaments are very good for us. We've got a good number of games in front of us, and that's something that I personally appreciate. I don't think we have ever done this before,'' Gurpreet told ''Tournaments such as these are always a challenge, but they also present a great opportunity to polish our skills against good teams and even to win some silverware.

''The Asian Cup is very important for us. We need to play more competitive games at every opportunity we get, which will be good for us in our preparation for the Asian Cup.'' India began their camp in Bhubaneswar with 40 players, before the squad was cut down to 27 after a rigorous few days of physical tests by the coaching staff. Facilities provided by the Government of Odisha are currently being used by the team as the players get into shape for the challenges ahead.

''The last few days in the camp have been good. A lot of tests have been done, where we have been put in different situations,'' said Gurpreet. ''The facilities in Odisha have been amazing for us. Bhubaneswar has everything that a player can ask for. In terms of training facilities, dressing rooms, recovery, gyms, and fitness equipment, it's all top notch.'' Gurpreet feels that the core of the team has been quite stable over the last year, with the players putting in consistent performances.

''Of course, nothing is permanent in terms of having a secure position on the pitch, but a lot of players have been consistently in the squad since last year, and that's because they are all performing,'' Gurpreet said. ''This consistency is very important if we expect the team to go places. Few have also come back from injuries, which is always a good sign.''


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