Even before the season began, Dabang Mumbai skipper Glenn Turner asserted two pre-determined goals. “We want to reach at least the semi-finals, and we want to give the fans something to cheer about this time around,” he had mentioned. But for Turner’s hopes, until recently, Mumbai’s season resembled the bitter performances of the previous defunct city-based Hockey India League (HIL) franchise.
Yet a win in their previous game, at home, has managed to keep the side in contention for a spot in the final four. A lot now will depend on how the hosts perform against the Uttar Pradesh Wizards on Wednesday at the Mahindra Stadium. It’s Mumbai’s last game on home turf and the importance of a win cannot be undermined for their future in the league.
Now placed fifth in the six-team table, the hosts will enter the game, for the first time this season, with a better run of form than their opponents — the Wizards lost 1-0 in their previous match against Ranchi Rays. Nonetheless, since the visitors are placed third, the onus of initiating an efficient attacking mindset lies on Mumbai.
Following their win over Kalinga Lancers over the weekend, coach Valentin Altenburg asserted he wasn’t too pleased with the play execution. “We’ve lost matches where we actually played well, and now we won a game I wouldn’t say we were too good in. Now we need to get the combination of a win and a good game in place,” he had said after the win against Kalinga.
For starters, on the attacking front, a poor conversion rate in penalty corners would alarm the management. Yet interestingly enough, goals for Mumbai in their solitary win came through drag-flick routines. Their conversion rate, however, continues to remain a concern, having converted the two goals from seven attempts they had despite the likes of Tom Boon and Turner adorning the Mumbai ranks.
The Wizards on the other hand have a formidable line-up. First choice India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh has been efficient in goal, while fellow international Ramandeep Singh has been in a decent run of form of late. VR Raghunath too would be looking towards the outing, given that he scored a hat-trick the last time he played in Mumbai in a HIL match.