Delhi to take on winless Mumbai on Saturday
Mumbai: Laggards Mumbai Magicians would desperately look for a win against table-toppers Delhi Waveriders when they clash in their penultimate Hockey India League home tie, here on Saturday.
The Mumbai franchise, last edition`s wooden spoonists, would be rejuvenated after a long break but face a formidable task against the Sardar Singh-led Waveriders.
Mumbai, who are to clash with Kalinga Lancers on Sunday to complete their home engagements, have been consistently poor barring a few games which includes their first leg tie against Delhi which they narrowly lost.
The Delhi outfit had earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Magicians on their home turf.
Despite being in control for most part of the match the Magicians allowed the Waveriders to take the game away in the last few minutes.
"We will go out and play well tomorrow. It is very much important for us to win and will try not repeating the mistakes in our game against Delhi Waveriders and the team has been working on that," said Mumbai coach M K Kaushik.
"I agree that the advantage will be with Delhi Waveriders as they have already qualified for the semifinals, hence they can go easy for tomorrow?s game but it`s very much important for us to win tomorrow," Kaushik added.
Magicians skipper Glenn Turner said they would like to end the season on a better note by securing a win.
"We are practicing hard and making our full effort to perform well in our next match against Delhi Waveriders. We definitely want to win tomorrow?s game. It will be good for us to finish the tournament on a stronger note," the Aussie said.
Waveriders, who had finished runners-up last year, are currently leading the standings with 34 points from 9 games, while the Magicians are placed last with 7 points from the same number of matches.
Delhi would like to keep the winning momentum going into the semi-finals for which they have already qualified irrespective of the result tomorrow.
"We are satisfied with the performance of our team in the last two games and the entire unit is motivated to have entered the semi-finals. Even though we have qualified for the next round, for tomorrow we will play with our full strength to win the match and further consolidate our position on the points table," Delhi skipper Sardar Singh said.
Delhi coach Cedric D`Souza said they would not be taking their opponents lightly.
"Mumbai is a strong team and they have proved it in their games till now. Although we have qualified for semi finals but the team will be out tomorrow for a win," he said.
Having booked a berth in the semi-finals, the Waveriders hoped to reach the finals of the tournament.
"At the beginning of the tournament, we had only one thing on the back of our mind that is to qualify for the semi-finals. We are fortunate to have done that. Let's hope we can take it one step further. It is one game at a time and one step at a time," coach D'Souza said.
D'Souza, a former national coach who was at the helm during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, further said the team is high on morale after defeating every side in the league stage at least once.
"We were fortunate enough to have beaten every team. We have won most of our matches, lost just two and drawn one match. The important thing is to maintain that momentum. We are very high on intensity, motivation and morale," he said.
The Mumbai-born coach added they would approach tomorrow's game in the same manner as their other ties.
"They may not have garnered the points but every team is playing well. Each match has been taken at its full strength," he said.
"They (Mumbai) are a very good side. It is unfortunate that they have not won some matches. They have got very good players like Glenn Turner, right half (V S) Vinaya, who is playing very well, two great goal keepers. There are many more players. We are not taking them lightly. We are just going to go full throttle at them," D'Souza concluded.