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Daddy's girl: Skipper Manpreet had a new supporter as he led India to men's hockey final

As Manpreet Singh’s side overcame South Africa 3-2 in a well-fought encounter to make it to the final of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, supporting him from the stands was his eight-month-old daughter. Manpreet is married to Illi Najwa Saddique a former Malaysian hockey player.

Manpreet was thrilled to have his daughter in the stands as India reached the final on Saturday and hoped she chooses to play hockey in the future.

"I hope she’s enjoying it. I’m so happy to bring her here to see the hockey — hopefully, she’ll choose hockey in future," said Manpreet after the match.

The 30-year-old, who led India to a historic bronze medal at Tokyo last year — the country’s first medal in the Olympics after a gap of four decades — was happy that his team managed to reach the final after failing to do so in 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia as India lost in the semifinals and missed out on the bronze medal too after losing to England 2-1.

"In the 2018 Commonwealth Games we lost the semifinal (2-3 to New Zealand) and we learned good things (important lessons). That’s what we applied in this Commonwealth Games (here). We should not underestimate any team. Any team will come with their best and we should give our best every single match, so that’s what we did."

He said South Africa put up a good fight but India were confident after having played them in the FIH Pro League earlier in the year.

"They’re a really good team, they’re good skillful players and they never give up. Today you see they also gave their best until the last whistle, that’s the good part about them.

"We also knew that this match was not going to be easy for us, they’re not going to give us an easy win. They’re going to give us a good fight. That’s what happened and we were prepared for that.

"We scored the first two goals, but we were thinking we should not take it easy, because they can score any time," Manpreet said.

Hockey made its Commonwealth Games debut in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur and Australia has bagged the gold medal in all six editions.

They will be going for their seventh gold when they take on India in the final on Monday. Australia defeated hosts England 3-2 in the second semifinal on Saturday. This will be the third clash between India and Australia in the Commonwealth Games finals. India had lost to the World No. 1 team in the 2010 and 2014 editions to finish with silver medals.

–IANS

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