Former India coach Armando Colaco has an interesting analogy to explain the importance of having a good goalkeeper in a team.
"If you live in a country of blind people, but have a functional set of eyes, it is natural you would be the king. Likewise, if the goalkeeper is good, then he can make up for all the lapses in defence," says Colaco.
On Saturday, it wasn't that Chennai City FC were akin to a country of blind people when playing at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, but their defence was abysmal for most part, yet they came away with a respectable 1-0 defeat to Aizawl FC. And they had goalkeeper Karanjit Singh to thank.
Karanjit was exceptional, especially in a first half where Chennai practically played 44 minutes and 30 seconds from inside their own half.
He palmed away a Mahmoud Al Amna free kick, blocked two superb pile-drivers from Alfred Jaryan either side of half-time and even plucked the ball off the bootlaces of Kamo Bayi at the edge of the penalty box. Karanjit appeared to be playing on a different level than his teammates and his opponents.
"He is a very sincere and hardworking person, who gives his best. He is not the tallest of goalkeepers, but guides the defence very well," says Colaco, who gave Karanjit his senior India debut in a stormy 3-0 defeat in a World Cup qualifier in Al Ain, UAE in July 2011.
"It is very difficult when you are a reserve goalkeeper and you have to get on to the field all of a sudden," says Colaco, remembering a match where defender Debabrata Roy -- ironically Karanjit's team mate again in Chennai City -- and Subrata Pal were both sent off inside the first 24 minutes, forcing the coach to take off winger Steven Dias to bring on Karanjit.
"He came on as if nothing had happened. He had that maturity to put the situation behind him. They only scored one field goal, and that's a credit to Karanjit."
In a forgettable season I-League season thus far for Chennai, Karanjit, who joined on loan from Indian Super League's Chennaiyin FC, has been a standout performer. He was player of the match in their first two I-League games, including a 2-0 defeat away to Bengaluru FC. A subsequent injury forced him out for almost a month, a time in which Chennai shipped in 11 goals in seven games.
Former India goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey believes playing for a relatively weaker team works to Karanjit's advantage in this case. "Playing for a superior team is tougher from a technical perspective, because you can switch off without realising it," says Chaubey.
"In a weak side, you know you will be pressed into service often and hence are switched on from the first minute. If you see Indian teams' performances against superior opposition like Japan, Saudi Arabia, Korea, etc. we might often lose 3-0 or 4-0, but the goalkeeper often makes six or seven ridiculous saves. That's because you are always alert."
Now 31, Karanjit hasn't played for India since a goalless draw against Nepal in August 2015, but both Colaco and Chaubey believe there's a good chance for him to come back into national reckoning, where the top three goalkeepers at the moment are Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Subrata Pal and Amrinder Singh.
"What goalkeepers need most of all is agility and mobility. On top of that, your reflexes need to be sharp, and you must know when to come out of your six-yard box," says Colaco. "Age is not a factor, though I personally feel sometimes coming out and collecting is a problem with Karanjit."
Chaubey thinks goalkeepers get better with age "much like wine", but believes Karanjit must work on keeping his fitness levels high after more than a decade in professional football.
"At the present moment, barring Subrata, he's the most experienced goalkeeper in India. When a goalkeeper advances in age, their positioning and anticipation become better. If Karanjit has to come back into the Indian team, he must just keep putting in the performances and hope that his feats are recorded and acknowledged by the people who matter."