U Mumba’s new head coach Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan has asserted that they not only have a strong defence but also some good raiders for the upcoming seventh season of PKL. Baliyan also praised Fazel Atrachali and Sandeep Narwal saying that the duo forms a good corner combination for the team.
With the auctions of the seventh edition of the Pro Kabaddi League coming to an end, the 12 teams are now certain about their combination of players that they want to go ahead with. U Mumba had retrained three defenders Fazel Atrachali, Subramaniam Rajguru and Surender Singh from their last team before the auctions while the addition of all-rounder Sandeep Narwal for a whopping Rs. 89 lakh has only strengthened the team’s defence further.
On the other hand, in the raiding department, they will have Abhishek Singh, Arjun Deshwal and Rohit Baliyan from last year and have picked up former Thalaiva Athul MS and Korean Dong Geon Lee in the team for Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 25 lakh respectively in the auctions.
Although the team had decided to let go their star from last season Siddharth Desai this year, they still have a settled combination to start fresh in 2019. Coach Sanjeev Baliyan, who took over the team from Iranian Gholamreza Mazandarani just before the auction, is of the same opinion as he said that not only the defence, the team has some good raiders as well for this year.
“I am happy with how the auction went for us and we have a good player combination for this season. We couldn’t get all the players we wanted. All the teams will not be satisfied all the time in the auctions. I think we have managed to get a good team with Fazel, Sandeep Narwal, Surender, Rohit Baliyan among others for this year,” Baliyan told SportsCafe in a telephonic interview.
“We have very good raiders like Rohit, Abhishek, Athul and all. Not only the defence, we have good raiders as well. It is all about getting the right opportunities during the league to perform on the mat.”
U Mumba played with the corner combination of skipper Fazel at left and the experienced Dharmaraj Cheralathan at the right in season 6. However, after releasing 43-year-old Cherala, Mumba have now got Sandeep at the right corner. The all-rounder will be handy in some raids like the way he had chipped in at times for Puneri Paltan last year.
“I think both Fazel and Sandeep Narwal have got good speed and they can perform well together in the corner positions. Both the corners are really good and that is important for us,” the head coach explained.
U Mumba have two first-choice right cover defenders Surender and Subramaniam and both of them played in the last edition. It is most likely expected that they will get chances on the mat alternatively as the tournament progresses. However, the left cover isn’t quite settled as Korean Young Chang Ko and youngster Harendra Kumar are the two players in contention to start at that position.
“We have Korean Yung Chang Ko and an Indian player Harendra. Both are young and they have to do well to prove their talent on the mat, said Baliyan.
Baliyan is making a comeback into the Pro Kabaddi League through U Mumba as he had earlier won the title with Patna Pirates in the third season of the league. Baliyan has an experience of coaching Railways in the National Kabaddi Championships. He is happy to be a part of the Mumbai side but denied any pressure on him before the start of the season.
“It feels really great to be a part of the U Mumba team for the next season. It is a nice team with good staff and owners, said Baliyan.
“There is no pressure as a coach. The players have to do well and if we get under pressure, we can’t do well. The team has been performing from the first season and we will try to repeat that this year again.”
The franchise will start the coaching camp for the players next month. There will be two separate training sessions for the U Mumba players in May and June ahead of the start of the next PKL season. When asked about the decisions taken at the auctions, Baliyan said that it was a collective one.
“Everyone in the team management – coaches, team manager and owners were involved in the decision making process for the auctions.
“Won’t be able to make any comments at this stage (when asked about the team’s captaincy role). We will decide that in a meeting only after the camp before the season starts. Fazel and Sandeep are there, one whom we feel can take the team forward will be given the responsibility. All the members of the team management will take a decision regarding that,” the coach concluded.
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