JOHOR BARU: Manpreet Singh may be the Indian junior hockey skipper but his heart is in Malaysia.
The 21-year-old Punjab-born midfielder, who is featuring in the Sultan of Johor Cup, is in love with Illi Najwa, a Malaysian of Pakistani descent.
Manpreet met the 21-year-old Illi during the Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Baru last year.
Manpreet said it was love at first sight.
“Although I am from India, my heart is in Malaysia. I love to eat chapattis and Illi is learning how to cook them for me,” said Manpreet, who lives in the village of Mithapura in Jalandhar.
“Illi came to Punjab last year to meet my parents. They like her and have given us their blessings to get married,” said Manpreet, who has 79 international caps as an Indian senior player.
Manpreet, who is a bank officer with the Indian Overseas in Chennai, said that he is only 21 and would only tie the knot after the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympics.
“For now I will just concentrate on hockey as I want to feature in December’s Junior World Cup in New Delhi, next year’s World Cup in Holland and also the 2016 Olympics Games,” said Manpreet, who is featuring for the second time in the Sultan of Johor Cup as the team captain.
India play Malaysia in the last preliminary group match on Saturday although both have already qualified for Sunday’s final as the top two finishers.
Both have 12 points from four consecutive wins but India tops the standings on a better goal difference.
Manpreet said they will take Saturday’s match against Malaysia seriously.
“We have been playing exceptionally well and want to stay unbeaten in the tournament. Last year we lost to Germany 2-3 in the final but this time we will go all out to lift the title,” said Manpreet.
In the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup tournament in 2011, Malaysia scored a golden goal to defeat Australia 3-2 in the final to win the title.