Titans coach Naveen banks on his experience

“It is going to be a different kind of challenge as a coach in the PKL as there is very little difference among the top teams," Naveen said.

Telugu Titans coach Naveen Kumar.

It will be a huge challenge for Naveen Kumar, 34, of Haryana when he guides the destiny of Telugu Titans in the fifth Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) next month.

“Being my first-ever coaching assignment in the PKL, it is going to be a huge task. I don’t say there will be pressure on me but the desire is to first ensure that a settled combination is in place as we chase the elusive title,” said Naveen in an exclusive chat with Sportstar.

Naveen is confident of his rich experience as coach with Services, which also saw the team win the senior National, and as a gold medal-winning Indian team member in the 2006 Asiad and the 2007 World Cup as a raider of some repute, should help the team’s cause.

“It is going to be a different kind of challenge as a coach in the PKL as there is very little difference among the top teams. But we are more focused on the job on hand and what best we should do to win the title this time around. That is the reason we looked for the perfect blend of experience and youth to pack the attack and defence,” said the coach from Rohtak.

“I am sure Nilesh Salunke, who was named the best raider in the last Fed Cup, and Vikas Kumar and Munish will come good,” he said about the Titans’ possible attack to be led by the towering Rahul Choudhary upfront.

“Even in defence we put in lot of thought by placing our faith in the Iranians (Farhad Milaghardan and Mohsen Maghsoudlou) and also Amit Chhillar.”

What exactly will be the focus on the camp, which is likely to begin here in the first week of June? “If you look at the past editions, there have been some outstanding individual performances. But, this time around we need an improved showing as a team. That will be the key to our success,” Naveen said.

“We are confident of reaching the final in next edition as we have the players capable of coming good on the day it matters.”

Referring to Sachin Tendulkar getting on to PKL bandwagon as the co-owner of Chennai, Naveen said the sport could not have asked for a bigger champion to take it to the next level.

“These are the kind of personalities who can change the face of the game, which has taken a new dimension thanks to the PKL,” Naveen said.

“I am a huge fan of Sachin and like many other players, did not have the privilege of seeing the great sportsperson. We will now have the huge opportunity to meet him during the PKL. I am waiting for that big day.”

On the Titans franchisee owners, Naveen said he was impressed with the frankness and warmth shown by them. “They are large-hearted, know what exactly to expect and most importantly are in the mood to lend the kind of support to the team to realise its dream of winning the PKL title,” the Titans coached added.

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