Gurpreet to play ISL opener

Gurpreet to play ISL opener

Bengaluru FC's star goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will start his side's opening Indian Super League (ISL) game against Mumbai City FC on Sunday.

This is after  Lalthuammawia Ralte, one of the three goalkeepers that Bengaluru had picked at the ISL draft early this year, suffered an injury during a pre-season friendly against Minerva Punjab FC making him unavailable for 4-6 weeks.

"It's unfortunate that (Lalthuammawia) Ralte will have to miss out on a few games. He received a knock on his ankle and it's a grade II sprain. The doctors have advised him rest for 4-6 weeks," a source close to the club revealed to DH.

Sandhu, who joined Bengaluru during the summer transfer window from Norwegian club Stabaek FC for an undisclosed fee, is primed to replace his injured team-mate for the Mumbai tie.

The Punjab player was initially listed among the reserves by the Bengaluru side since the club had already completed their quota of 18 Indian players permitted as per the ISL rules.  

This meant Gurpreet would have ended up missing the first five games for Bengaluru unless  any of the three goalkeepers that Bengaluru had drafted in suffered an injury ahead of their first ISL tie. In such case, Bengaluru could bring in Gurpreet as a replacement.

"Ralte is out. He suffered an ankle injury during the friendly in Bellary against Minerva Punjab. We have the (ISL) rules that can give us a chance to replace him. And Gurpreet is that player. He is not out for five games. We will see if he can start from day one," the Bengaluru head coach Albert Roca said confirming the news.

"We would have liked him (Gurpreet) to start, he's the India No 1 goalkeeper after all. He's in the top level and he likes to fight for his place with his companions. He's the goalkeeper we wanted. He's in our squad and now for that reason (of Ralte's injury), we can put him in and field him in the playing XI. We can play him like the AFC Cup."

The fourth season of the ISL will kick-off on Friday with defending champions ATK taking on Kerala Blasters at the  Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.

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