Mumbai: On cloud nine after becoming the second costliest Indian player during the recent Hockey Indian League (HIL) player's auction, young defender Gurmail Singh today said his new team Dabang Mumbai is the side to watch out for in next year's cash-rich tournament.
The 23-year-old defender from Punjab never imagined that he would find himself in the middle of a fierce bidding war between Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Delhi
Waveriders before attracting the second-highest bid among Indian players from Dabang Mumbai, owned by DoIT Sports Management (India) Pvt. Ltd.
"I am feeling really good to be associated with Dabang Mumbai. In fact, I feel very proud," said Gurmail, who was bought for a whopping USD 81,000.
"I was watching the auction live and the way bidding was going, I was sure that I will either play for Delhi or my previous franchise Punjab. But Dabang Mumbai came into the picture pretty late and ultimately chose me and I hope I live upto their expectations. This squad is formidable and is one of the team to watch out for in HIL 2016," he added.
Talking about his new teammates at Dabang Mumbai, Gurmail, who has featured in the Asia Cup, World Cup and also FIH World League Semi-Final in Belgium this year, said: "I already know couple of them like Nikkin (Thimmaiah), Danish (Mujtaba) as I have played with them in Indian colours."
Young striker Nikkin will be one of the Indian stars in charge of the forward line and the Karnataka lad is overjoyed to get an opportunity to play for Mumbai.
"I am really happy to play for Dabang Mumbai this season as I like the city a lot. I have played a lot in this city during HIL as well as international matches and there has been a connect with the city," said Nikkin, who is a 2014 Asian Games gold medallist and had scored a hat-trick against Australia in this year's Azlan Shah Cup.
"With one field goal to be counted as two, there was lot of bidding war between franchises for acquisition of forwards. The forwards will definitely benefit from this and so will be the teams," added the 24-year-old, who was roped in by Dabang Mumbai for USD 67,000.
Dabang Mumbai added as many as 11 Indians to boost their quality core squad for the upcoming season of HIL. They purchased Indian striker Affan Yousuf(USD 53,000) and midfielders Danish Mujtaba(USD 54,000)and Vikas Sharma(USD 43,000).
On the composition of the team, owner Radha Kapoor, Director, DoIT Sports Management, said, "Our objective has always been to build a strong hockey team which can compete with the best. We have picked some experienced as well as young players, keeping in mind the recent rule change. I think we have achieved what we set out for and
I am confident this team will live up to the expectations."Dabang Mumbai has also roped in lethal strikes German Florian Fuchs and Australia's Kieron Govers, Australian Matthew Swann, Swede forward Johan Bjorkman, Spain goalkeeper Xavi Trenchs and New Zealand defender Shea McAleese in their ranks, besides retaining Australian defender Jeremy Hayward, Ireland goalkeeper David Harte and Indian defender Harmanpreet Singh.