The Indian football team’s goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu says his team has a good chance of upstaging Oman in Thursday’s World Cup qualifying opener here if it is plays with a fearless approach.
India is all set to take on Oman here for their first encounter of the qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup, China 2023. The hosts have never won against the visitors in a FIFA-recognised match.
“We play to win. We will play to our strengths, and look to keep the opposition at bay. Hopefully, we can get off to a good start and pick up the maximum points to start off the qualifiers,” said the Arjuna awardee.
FIFA World Cup 2020 qualifiers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu says India need to play without fear in opening match against OmanFile image of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Image Courtesy: Redbull
“We have to play together as a team, and without fear. Getting off to a good start will be really important,” he added.
The last time the two teams faced off was in a friendly game in 2018, the match ending in a goalless draw in Abu Dhabi.
Gurpreet said the team draws a lot of positives from that result, but at the same time, it is vital for it to “focus on the job ahead.”
“Of course, it is good to keep in mind what happened when we last faced Oman. We need to make sure we put on a good show in front of our home crowd in Guwahati,” he said.
The Indians underwent a preparatory camp in Goa, which kicked off on 20 August. The team has also played five international matches as build-up to the tournament since head coach Igor Stimac took over.
“A lot has changed, we have a new squad, new set of players and a different coach. On the pitch, we are trying to implement the style of play asked by the coach and put our best foot forward.
“Off the pitch, it has been pretty much the same, which is a good thing as you want to continue the good things that have been happening off the field,” he said.
India will play Qatar in their second match in group E on 10 September. Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the other two teams in the group.
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