Manjeet wasn’t happy that his performance didn’t win his side the game.

Dabang Delhi made it five wins in five in PKL Season 9. The defending champions rode on captain Naveen Kumar’s heroics to clinch the game against Haryana Steelers 38-36. With the scores tied heading into the final raid, Naveen managed a bonus and forced an error from Manjeet, sparking wild celebrations from coach Krishan Kumar Hooda. This is what he, Manpreet Singh and the captains said in the post-match press conference.

Dabang Delhi: Coach Krishan Kumar Hooda, Captain Naveen Kumar

Haryana’s reluctance to put in advanced tackles and that last raid

The Steelers put in a total of 23 tackles but only nine were successful in the PKL 9 game. Naveen exploited this poor success rate and forced the error from the defence in the last raid, inspired by Surender Gill’s final raid against Patna last year.

Naveen says, “During the review, Vishal told me that getting a touch is hard. The pressure was high. I remembered last year when Surender tried a bonus in the last raid when the scores were tied against Patna. We signalled the coach and he agreed to this plan. I was confident that they will fall for the fake bonus and Manjeet was caught in the high line, I have played a lot with him. We went only for the win.”

On the celebrations and the rivalry between the coaches

After locking gazes with Manpreet while the Steelers celebrated wildly after securing a last-minute all-out, coach Krishan Kumar Hooda could not control his emotions after Delhi eked out a win. Coach Krishan Kumar Hooda says, “Sometimes I forget how old I am! I had to make a statement in front of the other one (Manpreet) if he wasn’t there, I would have remained cool. Since he made me emotional, I had to give a reply. I have also played a lot of Kabaddi. I know who will get the Dhoti from Ganga Ji. A match should be played like a match with some discipline. I still have it in me to fight, only if I fight will my team fight. I have no worries.”

The trust in Naveen

Naveen raced to his fifth straight Super 10 in some style. Coach Krishan Kumar Hooda heaped praise on his captain and says, “Naveen knows all of us trust him and it is alright if he is tackled, and we lose as well. It’s not the Kumbh Mela that happens once in 12 years. Even if we lose, we get to play again. As long as my players try, I am ok with any outcome.”

Haryana Steelers: Coach Manpreet Singh, captain Joginder Narwal and Manjeet

Losing after the scores being level

Despite Manjeet’s heroic efforts to tie the score with less than a minute left, Haryana will be shattered to end up on the losing side in the PKL 9 game. Coach Manpreet Singh answers, “This match even we could have won till the last second. I commend the Delhi team’s courage. Only those who are a brave win in Kabaddi. They could have played for a tie but today, Kabaddi won. Naveen did what he should have done with the bonus attempt. We wanted to play on the baulk line, and I was screaming from the side, that was our plan but I guess the players could not hear me because of the crowd. This team can’t lose to anyone, the only way we will lose is through our own mistakes. As long as they (players) don’t listen and won’t believe, we won’t get a win.”

Amir’s advanced tackle attempt on Naveen and did that change the game?

Right corner Amirhossein Bastami has not yet shown his true capabilities in the league. Despite the rest of the defence keeping Naveen at bay till the last few minutes of the second half, Amir’s introduction threw a spanner into Haryana’s works. Captain Joginder answers, “I guess there was a miscommunication because of the language barrier between us and Amir. Both coach and I gave him orders but he did not follow them.”

Manjeet’s stellar second-half performance

Manjeet got his second Super 10 for the Steelers and got a tackle too. He answered, “Why would my performance matter when we did not get the win? If I perform well and the team wins, I will be happy but with such losses, my performance does not matter.”

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