The Hindu (Mumbai)

The importance of Manpreet in Haryana Steelers’ remarkable run

The outspoken and passionate Punjabborn playerturn­edcoach is thrilled that league will see a new team lifting the trophy in PKL 10

- Saikat Chakrabort­y

Manpreet Singh, the outspoken and passionate coach of Haryana Steelers, has taken the Pro Kabaddi League by storm this season.

After its unexpected win against Jaipur Pink Panthers in the semifinals, Manpreet took to the social media to urge fans for sportsmans­hip, regardless of the outcome of the match.

A former India Internatio­nal, Manpreet boasts an impressive coaching career in PKL. He previously led Gujarat Fortune Giants (now Gujarat Giants) to two consecutiv­e finals (in seasons five and six), showcasing his strategic prowess. However, guiding the underdog Haryana Steelers to the PKL 10 final could be his crowning achievemen­t, unless he crosses the final hurdle.

An Unlikely Journey

At the start of the season, the Steelers were considered the least likely to make the playoffs, let alone the final. They lacked experience­d players, with the exception of Mohit Nandal and Siddharth Desai.

A heavy defeat in their first match against UP Yoddhas (by 30 points) further solidified this perception. Desai’s injury added to the woes, leaving them with a seemingly insurmount­able task.

Undeterred, Manpreet transforme­d the team into a defensive powerhouse. He trusted his young defenders and Nandal’s experience, and the Steelers emerged as one of the league’s meanest defensive units. Captain Jaideep Dahiya, Nandal, Rahul Sethpal, Ashish, and Mohit formed a formidable wall, consistent­ly stifling opposition raiders.

Grinding Out Success

Unlike their flashy final opponent, Puneri Paltan, the Steelers relied on grit and determinat­ion. They defied expectatio­ns, grinding out wins and securing a playoff spot.

Despite their limited playoff experience, the Steelers continued their impressive run, cruising past the Giants in the eliminator, to secure their first win in PKL knockouts in their fiveyear history, before dethroning the Pink Panthers to reach the final.

The Steelers’ coach acknowledg­ed the unique nature of this season and termed the emergence of young teams as a sign of a shift in kabaddi.

“Both the finalists consist of young players, which I think is a statement that the game has evolved. Players after their 30s are not able to cope with the speed of the game,” he said after the win against the Pink Panthers.

The Punjabborn playerturn­edcoach also expressed happiness that league will

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