Dabang Mumbai skipper Florian Fuchs attributes team's early playoff qualification to discipline and the ability to come from behind and win
Florian Fuchs trains at the MHAL stadium in Churchgate recently
From languishing in the bottom half of the points table for the past four seasons of the Hockey India League to becoming the first side to seal a playoffs berth this year, the Dabang Mumbai juggernaut has been stellar.
Skipper Florian Fuchs & Co have lost only two games so far. "We are very disciplined. All of us are doing our jobs well. We started from a good base, our markings were good, so was the defense and now we are profiting," German international Fuchs told mid-day yesterday.
A lot of credit for Mumbai's success must be attributed to their resilient strike-force — comprising Affan Yousuf, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Junior World Cup star Harmanpreet Singh and Fuchs himself.
"We enjoy being together and our relationship is good. The U-21 boys have developed, they got a whole different style of playing, have been consistent this year and have created a lot of chances, something we lacked last year," Fuchs added.
Another distinct feature of Mumbai's phenomenal ascent this season has been the ability of the team to fight back. In the opening game, Fuchs' 60th minute goal helped the side to hold Ranchi Rays 3-3.
Dutch international Robbert Kemperman's field goal in the last minute proved to be the difference in the team's 4-3 win over Uttar Pradesh Wizards recently.
"It has been really outstanding that we have come back four times in the tournament. Against UP, when we scored the winning goal, everyone in the side got confidence that we can turn around matches and we will fight till the end," the 25-year-old Fuchs said.
Although Mumbai have been on a great run, there were some initial hiccups they had to face. "Off the pitch, we bonded really well, but we have players from six different nations. Bringing those stars together on the pitch and finding a way to play successfully, where we can put different styles of hockey and play as a unit, was a big challenge," Fuchs explained.
Dabang Mumbai have just one more match (vs UP on February 22) left before they complete their league commitments and hit the semi-final arena. Fuchs believes the offense stills needs to be polished. “Considering the last games, the Jaypee Punjab match was the best defensive game. We have to definitely improve offensively. Decision making has to improve in the circles and we have to be efficient there. We are going to be difficult to beat,” he asserted.