Mumbai, 05 February 2013: Uttar Pradesh Wizards sealed their place in the semi-finals of the Hero Hockey India League with a 1-0 win over Dabur Mumbai Magicians at Mumbai Hockey Association Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday. Wizards’ win also ended Magicians’ chances of making it to the semi-finals.
Nothing less than a win would have kept Magicians’ challenge in the tournament alive. However, a first half goal by Luke Doerner sealed the fate of the hosts.
Knowing that only a win can keep them in the tournament, Magicians went on attack right from the word go. And the hosts were rewarded with a penalty corner in the second minute. Sandip Singh, the tournament’s top scorer, went to the left of the Wizards’ goalie, but his strike was deflected wide by a Wizards’ defender.
Couple of minutes later, Satbir Singh went solo, before being checked by Wouter Jolie at the top of the circle. Wizards had a chance to take the lead when Nitin Thimmaiah collected a loose ball, beat Sandip Singh, and had a one on one situation with Magicians’ goalie Sreejesh. Nitin tried to go round Sreejesh, and lost the ball in the process.
Wizards started the second quarter well, and earned a penalty corner in the 21st minute. Wizards tried a dummy before Raghunath took a push that was saved well by a diving Sreejesh. Wizards earned another penalty corner 10 minutes later. Gunasekar’s push landed on a Magicians’ defender’s foot, resulting in another penalty corner. This time Raghunath played a dummy, and Luke Doerner’s strike gave no chance to the Magicians’ goalie as the visitors went a goal up.
Wizards once again dominated at the start of the third quarter, earning another penalty corner in the 37th minute. Nitin Thimmaiah got the ball that had rebounded of the goalie, and his strike hit the knee of a defender, resulting in Wizards earning a penalty stroke. Joren Hertzberger took the stroke, Sreejesh went the wrong way, but the ball hit the post and went wide.
With just two minutes to play before the final whistle, Magicians got a lifeline, as they got a penalty corner. The execution turned out to be a disaster as the ball was not stopped properly. And that was very much the end of the Magicians’ chances of making it to the semis.
UP Wizards coach Roelant Oltmans said that they have missed many chances to score goals. “We had many chances but we missed them, and that is where we have to improve. We didn’t give away much and our defence was strong, that was the best part. I’m happy to be in the semis and looking forward to play tough with our competitors,” Oltmans said at the post-match press conference.
On the other hand, Dabur Mumbai Magicians coach Richard Charlesworth showed his disappointment. “I am really disappointed. We got a good start and we were pretty much in control but we did not finish well. That’s the game of hockey I guess,” he stated.
The Hero Hockey India League is organised by Hockey India with official sanction from the International Hockey Federation (FIH). The inaugural season is being played from January 14 to February 10, 2013 in a home-and-away format. The five franchisee-based teams, consisting of the top hockey players from India and around the world, will compete for the prestigious trophy. Hero Motocorp Ltd. is the Title Sponsor of the league while Airtel is the Associate Sponsor. Star Sports, who is the Broadcast Partner, will be telecasting all matches live.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards 1 (Luke Doerner 33) bt Dabur Mumbai Magicians 0
HERO Goal of the Day: Luke Doerner
Man-of-the-Match: Nitin Thimmiah