By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, July 20 (IANS) In a bid to keep himself ready for the upcoming season during these trying times, India’s first-choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is training two times a week under the watchful eyes of former AC Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac.
In Sydney since India announced a nationwide lockdown on March 25, the ace Bengaluru FC custodian had been training with Sydney United 58 FC mate and Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu for some time now until a friend catered to his craving for more goalkeeping practice.
“I have been training with their goalkeepers. I started about 3-4 weeks back. They train two times a week and have been kind enough to let me in,” Gurpreet told IANS from Sydney.
“They are coached by Zeljko Kalac and it has been amazing to pick his brains,” said Gurpreet, a two-time Indian Super League (ISL) Golden Glove winner.
“I trained with the team I think twice but after that I opted to only train during the individual goalkeeper sessions that the goalkeeper coach was doing with some of their academy keepers. Two of the boys are Huddersfield keepers..they are flying back to England tomorrow I think,” added the 28-year old who became the first Indian footballer to play for a European top division club, Stabaek FC in Norway.
“The quality in training has been really good. I mean everyone is doing their bit. We don’t know when things will restart. I am trying to keep fit. This is not everyday training on the pitch so it’s not the same. But something is better than nothing isn’t it,” said Gurpreet, also the first Indian to get a taste of the Europa League.
India are slated to take on Asian champions Qatar at home on October 8 in their next 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying round game which was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic. India then take on Bangladesh away on November 12 and host Afghanistan on November 17.
The ISL is expected to start behind closed doors from the third week of November.
“I am training two times with the goalkeeping coach and two times with Erik (Paartalu). Besides that, I am working on my fitness and trying to do the best I can,” said Gurpreet who got engaged recently.
Asked about his plans of returning to India, Gurpreet said it will depend on the COVID-19 situation in the country and national team camp and his club’s pre-season.
“It depends on the situation. I am not sure at the moment. It will also depend on the camp and pre-season. I will be there whenever I am required,” he concluded.