India have to rally as a team against Oman, says Sandhu

in the firing line
In all likelihood it's going to be a busy night for Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. File photo: AFP
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Guwahati: Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu feels India have a good chance of upsetting Oman in Thursday's FIFA World Cup qualifying opener.

The hosts have never won against the visitors in a FIFA-recognised match.

"We have to play together as a team, and without fear. Getting off to a good start will be really important," Gurpreet was quoted as saying by the-aiff.com.

The last time the two teams faced off was in a friendly game in December 2018 where the match ended in a goalless draw in Abu Dhabi. Gurpreet admitted the team drew a lot of positives from that result, but at the same time, it was vital to "focus on the job ahead".

"Of course, it is good to keep in mind what happened when we last faced Oman. However, it is also important to focus on the job ahead of us. We need to make sure we put on a good show in front of our home crowd in Guwahati," he said.

India proceed to the match on back of a preparatory camp in Goa which kicked-off on August 20. 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."

Gurpreet, who was recently awarded with the prestigious Arjuna Award, also shared his thoughts on the opposition side and reserved a special word for his friend and veteran Oman goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who played against India in both fixtures of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers.

"Oman are a good team and have very talented players. The whole team is looking forward to playing against them. Personally, I would miss Ali Al-Habsi. Our friendhip goes back a long way, and watching him play was always a good sight," Gurpreet said.

India play 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar in their second match in Doha on September 10. Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the other two teams in Group E.

The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 3 and Asianet Plus from 7.30 pm.

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