Gujarat Fortunegiants coach Manpreet Singh has been the driving force behind the team’s impressive display in their debut season. Right from defining the right player combination in the team to being on the money with player substitutions on the mat and training regimes off it, Singh has come up on top on most occasions. However, the team stumbled at the final hurdle after coming agonisingly close to winning their maiden title in their debut season.

Though many may praise the team for going so far in spite of missing a number of big names in the raiding department, Singh feels his team could have done better.

“I wasn’t happy with the result,” he said while speaking exclusively to, “I felt we could have won the finals with the firepower at our disposal. We are still sad about that match because we expected to win, but it was Patna Pirates’ day and they won.”

But rather than delve too deep in the disappointment of last season, Singh has already moved forward and started work on ensuring the team does an even better job this time around.

“Last season I would have liked to have been stronger in defence, especially in the final. Our raiders were giving us points but the corner defenders didn’t complete too many tackles, leaving both our corners weak. You need your corners to perform if you are to win,” admitted Singh. “We are now working on improving our corner co-ordination and we have also created back-ups for every position. So, if he has an injury or is underperforming we have a replacement.

“Last year we trained 9 hours every day - 3 hours each in the morning, afternoon and evening. And once the co-ordination between all players clicked, it helped us a lot. We’ve doubled the preparations on planning, techniques, fitness and other aspects. So now let’s see our performance on the mat.”

His confidence is high, and with talented youngsters from last year like Sachin and Rohit Gulia, coupled with new blood like Ajay Kumar and K Prapanjan, he has formed a formidable unit which justifies it.

“We are prepared to fight it out against all eleven sides. If we play well and don’t have injury concerns, we should emerge triumphant. The season is long and it’s tough to keep up the same pace against all teams. But we are prepared to prove what we can do this time,” he declared.

As a coach, Singh’s focus has always been on giving the youth a platform to exhibit their talent. It is a strategy that has worked well for Gujarat in the past and they plan to persist with it this season as well.

“This sport and platform is suited for young-blood as it’s fast and intense.” he reasons before analysing the composition of his team. “Now we have people like Ajay Kumar, K Prapanjan, Hadi Oshtorak and Mahendra Rajput who have played a few seasons of VIVO Pro Kabaddi. Rohit Gulia, Sunil Kumar, Parvesh Bhainswal and Sachin also have a feel of the league now. So we have the right mix. Talking about the young kids, there are 3-4 other players like Shubham Ashok Palkar, Lalit Chaudhary, Yashwant Bishnoi and Vikram Kandola who can cement a spot in the team.”

With his bases covered on the mat, Singh had an appeal to make for the part of the Gujarat Fortunegiants team which was off the mat- the fans.

“Enjoy the sport of kabaddi, and support your team to help them achieve glory” said the coach, “Even if we have a rough patch, please stay with us so that it motivates the players to do better. Support the team in our bad times when we lose, and celebrate our good moments with us. That is the only request I have for the fans.”