After ending their victory drought on Sunday, Dabang Mumbai have a formidable task on hand when they take on Uttar Pradesh Wizards in their Hero Hockey India League first leg clash at the Mahindra Stadium today.
Dabang Mumbai players play ‘gully hockey’ with the students of HR College in their college campus in Churchgate yesterday
The 2-1 win over cellar outfit Kalinga Lancers two days ago, after three losses and two draws in their previous games, was a big boost for Mumbai in their floundering campaign.
Winning is the key
Mumbai, presently fifth in the six-team table, however, need to sustain their winning momentum against third-placed Wizards to keep their semi-final hopes alive as a defeat would dent their chances severely.
For this to happen Mumbai should sharpen their field-goal skills as both the goals against the Lancers came off penalty corner conversions.
For all the potential thrust the home team has with Australian sharp-shooter Glenn Turner spearheading their attack, Mumbai have depended a lot on Harmanpreet's drag-flick abilities from penalty corners to score goals.
But they have a formidable line-up facing them here with the Wizards sporting a good sprinkling of current India internationals including No 1 goalkeeper P R Sreejesh, deep defender V R Raghunath and Ramandeep Singh.
The Mumbai defense has to be at its best to stop drag-flick expert Raghunath, who has struck four times from set-pieces so far.
The Wizards, with interim national coach Roelant Oltmans at the helm, have blown hot and cold this season, winning three and losing as many while drawing one game so far to tally 20 points from seven matches.
Mumbai coach Valentin Altenburg said the team was confident of another victory. "We are pretty confident on our comeback with our recent win against Kalinga Lancers.
Tom Boon and Harmanpreet Singh are the players the team will be mainly depending on as both have been very consistent throughout the league. Also, we have worked on our defence strategies in order to restrict the opponents," Altenburg said.
UP coach Oltmans pointed out that his team needed just one more victory to book their semi-final berth. "We are looking forward to a great game tomorrow. We just need to score one more win to make our place in semifinals. Our aim will be to perform the way we did with Jaypee Punjab Warriors.