New Delhi: India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu feels the country's recent performance in the AFC Asian Cup will have a huge impact on Indian football.
India began 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 UAE and Bahrain.
"21 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. The impact of the competition will be huge for Indian football," Gurpreet was quoted as saying by All India Football Federation's (AIFF) official website.
"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," he added.
The Indian football team and its fans were left heartbroken after it lost 0-1 to Bahrain by conceding in the final minutes. The result meant that the Stephen Constantine-coached team was knocked out of the tournament having won just one of its three matches in the UAE.
Gurpreet, who failed to save a penalty from Bahrain's Jamal Rashid in the final minutes of the game said: "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."
But the 26-year-old maintained that the team was competitive in all three of its games.
"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 said.