Gujarat Fortunegiants was one of the most impressive sides in the Pro Kabaddi League Season 5 as they marched their way to the finals. Gujarat Fortunegiants coach Manpreet Singh had a key role to play in the success of the debutante franchise as he marshalled his troops throughout the season with a firm hand.
The former Patna Pirates defender has a wealth of experience to his credit having played the sport for more than twenty years of his life. He led the Patna Pirates to their first championship victory as the skipper in the third season of the Pro Kabaddi League.
Sportskeeda caught up with the man in charge for the Fortunegiants ahead of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 6 which begins in the second week of October 2018. Gujarat Fortunegiants will take on Dabang Delhi KC in their first match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, Tamil Nadu in the first leg of the three month long tournament that winds up in January 2019.
A finals finish in the debut season for any sporting team brings upon an additional level of pressure going into the new season. However, the Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh has a different approach altogether to handle the pressure and the expectations that his side will have to deal with as the season approaches day by day.
I want to change the entire perception of the coaching field in Kabaddi. I relish the challenges that come across in my path. Last year, I had a challenge leading a new side into a tough league such as the PKL. This time around, the challenge will be to play even better than the last season.
The Gujarat Fortunegiants' rise to the finals last season is largely attributed to Singh's strategy to field strong, stable defenders. He had the Iranian powerhouses Abozar Mohajermighani and Fazel Atrachali at his disposal who managed around 120 tackle points between them as Gujarat Fortunegiants swept aside all the competition in front of them. The team topped the Zone A standings last season with 87 points to their credit after winning fifteen matches out of the twenty-two in the league stage and losing just four times.
However, they were not able to retain the Iranian corner duo this time and instead have spent their purse in the auction on youngsters to replace them. The Fortunegiants signed up Rituraj Shivaji Koravi and Sachin Vittala for amounts of 30.4 Lakhs and 20 Lakhs respectively. In addition to this, they retained Sunil Kumar (49.1 Lakhs) and picked up Parvesh Bhainswal (35 Lakhs) in the auction keeping hold of their cover defenders who were also impressive in the PKL Season 5.
Speaking about the two young corner defenders, Singh was highly optimistic about their signing and forecasted stellar performances by them in the sixth season.
Abozar Mohajermighani and Fazel Atracheli were superb on the mat for us last season and no one can replace the two. However, the two young guys (Koravi and Vittala) who we have picked up will do better than them according to me. They might just end scoring 100 tackle points each this season.
One of the biggest finds of the last season for the Gujarat Fortunegiants was youngster Sachin Tanwar who set the league on fire with his performances as he finished with a total of 159 raid points throughout the entire season. Singh highlighted the advantage of having youngsters like Sachin in the team and asserts that playing youngsters is the way to go in the Pro Kabaddi League.
The Pro Kabaddi League platform is for the young players and any team that has young players who play with a good sense of the sport will surely do well in the league.
Gujarat Fortunegiants signed another young raider in the form of 24-year old K Prapanjan who had a promising run with the Tamil Thalaivas last season for an amount of 38 Lakhs. Prapanjan scored a total of 123 raid points in 22 matches and had the most do-or-die raid points for the Tamil Thalaivas. Singh explained how Prapanjan will fit into the raiding unit of the side alongside Sachin Tanwar.
Both Prapanjan and Sachin have their unique roles in the team. Last year, we had Chandran Ranjith and Sukesh Hegde as the left raiders. This year, Prapanjan will be our left raider and Sachin as the right raider.
Singh also spoke in high regards about the fans of the franchise in Ahmedabad and the team's superb home record at the home stadium.
We won 5 matches and tied one at our home leg and did not lose a single match. I had challenged all the others to replicate it and no one was able to achieve it. We will aim to maintain the home record. I urge all our fans to continue their tremendous support towards us and I ensure them we will give our 100%.
Gujarat Fortunegiants open their campaign against Dabang Delhi KC in their first match this season at the JLN Stadium in Chennai on October 9, 2018.