DRIVEN: India captain to marry Malaysian but expect no favours in Sultan of Johor Cup
THERE will be no love lost between India and Malaysia in their final group match of the Sultan of Johor Cup today, but love is on the sidelines.
For India skipper Manpreet Singh, 21, has fallen head-over-heels in love with a Malaysian girl and plans to marry her after the 2016 Olympics.
"We met during the second Sultan of Johor Cup (2012) and after exchanging numbers, we kept in touch and love blossomed.
"I plan to marry her after the Rio Olympics," said Manpreet, who has 79 international caps, and is also a regular with the senior side.
He took his sweetheart to Punjab last year, where she enjoyed the village life in Lahore.
"My parents like her very much and approve of our relationship, and she also liked my village very much," said Manpreet.
Even though he is floating on love, Manpreet's feet are firmly on the ground to rally his men to beat Malaysia today, and again in the final tomorrow.
"I love this country, but will plan for a victory for India in both the encounters because my mates and I want to land our hands on the title," said Manpreet.
Malaysia won the inaugural title in 2011, Germany claimed the next title, and it will be a tussle between Malaysia and India in the third edition.
"As we will be playing India twice, I will use the first to give more playing time to my fringe players," said Malaysia coach K. Dharmaraj.
"We will be going for wins in both the encounters, but I will caution my players to play safe and try to avoid injuries and cards because the Sunday match is what matters most."
"We will be playing with tournament favourites and also one of the strong contenders for the World Cup title.
"The match will not be an easy one, but I am looking forward to it because it will give me a super chance to test my players against one of the top junior teams in the world," said Dharmaraj.
The Indian side play hockey until the strikers reach the opponents' semicircle, and then change to cricket by slamming in loose balls like they are looking for sixers.
The Indian strikers have shown a killer instinct, which has netted 15 goals in four matches. They have let in only four.
Malaysia have scored 16 and let in six.
"We won an average of eight penalty corners in every game, but the scoring rate has been very poor.
"This is one of the departments that I need to strengthen before New Delhi," said Dharmaraj.
The Junior World Cup will be held in New Delhi on Dec 6-15.