hi INDiA Copyright 2022
New Delhi, Jan 24: India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu feels that the impact of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will be "huge for Indian football."
"Twenty one out of the 23 players in the team were playing at such a stage for the first time. Now, we want to take it from here. It is important for us to deliver at the big stages and we shall do so," Gurpreet was quoted as saying by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) website.
"The impact of the competition will be huge for Indian football."
India had begun their campaign with a convincing 4-1 victory over Thailand. But thereafter, the Blue Tigers bowed out in the first round after losing back to back matches against hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.
"This team can go places if we remain united, and the game plan is in the right place. We are out of the tournament but we can certainly do more than we did," Gurpreet stated.
"We were not at our best against Bahrain. I had to make sure that we were in the game till the very last minute. It was difficult physically and mentally as they were coming at us all guns blazing. We fought till the end but fell short," he added.
Gurpreet, who was also a part of the 2011 Asian Cup squad, maintained that the "team matched their opponents in all the three matches."
"We fought and there weren't any one-sided games. We matched our opponents every minute and were even better than them on many occasions. We got points on the board, and showed that we could match our opponents," he opined.
In 2011, India had also lost to Bahrain by a 2-5 margin in the first round.