Dabang Mumbai and Kalinga Lancers entered the finals of the fifth edition of India Hockey India League by winning their respective semi-finals against Delhi Waveriders and Uttar Pradesh Wizards at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium.
Table toppers Dabang Mumbai, led by their skipper Florian Fuchs, rode on a 26th minute field goal by Dutch import Robbert Kemperman to beat Delhi Waveriders 2-0 and set up a summit clash with the Lancers in the finals on Sunday.
Lancers defeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards via penalty shootout after both teams were locked 4-4 as the match went down to the wire. It was only in the sudden death that Lancers won 4-3.
While defending champions Punjab Warriors have already been knocked out of the competition, both Mumbai and Lancers have never won the title earlier.
For nearly 20 minutes, both Mumbai and Waveriders played cautiously before Mumbai earned their first penalty corner four minutes before the half-time.
Showing great skills, Mumbai’s Dutch import Robbert Kemperman converted the opportunity into a field goal and finally scored with an angular backhanded shot.
Barely a minute after Mumbai had scored, Waveriders got the golden opportunity to equalise when they earned a penalty stroke but they failed to convert the chance with Irish import David Harte, who recently won FIH goalkeeper of the year award, standing like a wall.
At the half-time, Mumbai were up 2-0, with field goal being counted as two as per the tournament rules.
In the remaining period, both teams fought hard, but the scoreline remained unchanged, even though Mumbai got a few close chances to increase their lead.
“It was a great team effort. I am happy that we reached the finals,” the Mumbai skipper said after the match.
For the losers of the two semi-finals today, Waveriders and UP Wizards, it was the failure to convert the penalty corner opportunities that came their way which let them down.
Earlier, Lancers Australian goalkeeper Andrew Charter, who won man-of-the-match for his efforts, saved several goals for his team, not only in the alloted time but also in the penalty shootout.
Akashdeep Singh of the Wizards pumped in a goal in the dying minutes of the alloted time after the Lancers were leading 4-2.
The Lancers, who were down 1-2 at the half time, came back strongly post interval to turn the tables on the Wizards. For the winners, skipper Mortiz Fuerste and Billy Bakker scored the winning goals.
UP Wizards took an early lead when Belgian Florent Van Aubel scored the first goal in the 4th minute converting from a pass from Arthur van Doren. Being a field goal, its conversion was counted as two as per tournament rules.
Prior to that they earned a penalty corner in the opening couple of minutes and two more by the half time, but they failed to convert any of these.
Just three minutes before end of the first quarter, Lancers Devindar Walmaki scored through a penalty corner.
Till half-time, the Wizards, who were leading 2-1, played some attacking hockey and had it not been for some valiant saves made by Lancers’ goalkeeper Andrew Charter, they would have scored more goals.
Lancers, however, were back in action when their skipper Mortiz Fuerste of Germany scored the equaliser in the 4th minute of the third quarter from a penalty corner.
In the third minute of the fourth and final quarter, Dutch Billy Bakker showed some great skills to beat Wizards’ defence and went past at least three players to score a goal.
By virtue of Bakker’s goal and as per tournament rules, Lancers extended the lead by 4-2.
However, for the Wizards, Akashdeep Singh, riding on the back of some good work from his team’s forwards, made no mistake to net the ball in the dying minutes of the alloted time to tie the scores 4-4.