New Delhi, Feb. 14 (ANI): On 15 February, hockey buffs in Delhi will get to witness a nail-biting clash between table toppers Dabang Mumbai and home team Delhi Waveriders, who are eager to keep their winning momentum going and ensure a spot in the semi final of the ongoing fifth edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) to be played in Chandigarh on February 25.
While the visitors led by German forward Florian Fuchs will play with zero pressure as they are almost certain to be through to the semi finals, Rupinder Pal Singh and his men will go into the game riding high on the confidence they have gained from the two successive wins against Kalinga Lancers (6-4) and Uttar Pradesh Wizards (8-1).
When the two teams met earlier in Mumbai, the home team had scored a narrow 3-2 win with Affan Yousuf scoring twice for them while Delhi Waveriders goals came from penalty corners converted by Rupinder Pal Singh and Justin Reid-Ross.
“We have four more games left in the league and the one against Dabang Mumbai will be a good game and a win will keep our chances of making the semis intact. They are a tough team to beat and they have good results so far and one of their major plus point is their ability to comeback from a goal deficit to win matches,” expressed Singh.
He further said that the two back-to-back wins have given his team the much-needed confidence.
“I think we did very well in the past two games and that’s given the team a lot of confidence. We were very strong in our defence against Kalinga Lancers which I think was a key factor in our win. We have a specific plan against Dabang Mumbai and I am confident the team will execute it, play to the home advantage and make opportunities count,”said the drag flick expert.
Meanwhile, Fuchs was his usual calm, jovial-self on Tuesday morning when he along his teammates shared some fun banter on the poolside in their team hotel in New Delhi. “Last year we missed making the Semi Final by goal difference and that was a heart break. This year, it was our clear goal to reach the semis. We see the next two matches as a platform to improve and get sharper for the Finals weekend in Chandigarh. Since we have almost made it to the semis already, we will play freely and with less pressure but having said that, we want to win those two games,” asserted Florian who has eight goals against his name in the league so far.
The German forward further insisted that Dabang Mumbai have made great progress this year compared to last year and one of their key strengths has been the team’s ability to comeback in crucial games.
“We have made big development through the season and have created a lot of chances. Defensively also we have done well and everyone is happy and upbeat. We did well in the start of the league getting some good wins and the U-21 World Cup players coming in fresh from the tournament and some new international recruits have taken our overall performance to a new level. How we came back in games has given us a lot of confidence and belief in the team’s strength and we would like to preserve it for the Finals weekend,” he added.
Speaking about their chances against Delhi Waveriders, Florian stated that the home team will be on a high from their previous wins. “They have won their last two matches and are definitely on a high. They are playing much better hockey than the beginning and they will put pressure on us and I will it will be an open game. While we are fit and sharp they are mentally tough,” he concluded.