Mumbai: Winless Dabang Mumbai and struggling Kalinga Lancers cross swords here on Sunday in a Hockey India League match that would determine to a large extent which of them stays afloat to progress further in the event.
Mumbai, coached by German Valentin Altenburg, have failed to live up to their promise after having recruited top overseas players like Australian World Cup winning team member Glenn Turner and star Belgian player Tom Boon. Another loss tomorrow at the Mahindra Stadium would virtually end their semifinal hopes.
Lancers started with a bang at home in Bhuabaneshwar by thrashing Ranchi Rays 6-3 on January 22 but come into this game after being, in turn, whipped 4-0 in their previous match yesterday at Ranchi in a sweet revenge for the Rays.
So, the teams currently placed at the bottom two spots of the six-team table have a lot to play for when they clash here on Sunday.
Mumbai's problem stems from the fact that Turner, who leads from the front, has not secured enough support from the midfield to rip apart the rival defences.
In their previous game against defending champions Delhi Waveriders at home, Mumbai hardly made a threatening move barring securing a few penalty corners without drag-flick specialist Harmanpreet Singh being able to find the mark from these set pieces.
They need to show a lot more speed and thrust in their attacks and more assurance in defending than they have displayed till date to put it across Lancers.
The visitors, who have eight points from one win and five losses as compared to the hosts' seven from two draws and three losses, also have to plug their leaks in deep defence.
On paper, Mumbai appear to hold the edge against Jude Felix-coached Lancers who are mainly dependent on Australian Russell Ford, who has appeared in the World Cup and Olympics, and a few current and former India internationals like Vikram Kanth, Gurjinder Singh and Lalit Upadhyay.