27th February 2017: Moritz Fuerste led from the front as Kalinga Lancers ended Dabang Mumbai’s dreams of lifting the coveted trophy in their first-ever final appearance.
Fuerste scored twice (30’ and 59’) while Glenn Turner struck their maiden goal in the 18th minute to help Kalinga Lancers win their first ever Coal India Hockey India League here in front of a packed Chandigarh Hockey stadium on Sunday.Table toppers Dabang Mumbai who have shown great consistency through the league were kept in the hunt right from the word go with Kalinga Lancers showcasing some class act to defend their circle. Though the first quarter ended in a stalemate, the Kalinga Lancers made quick progress in the second quarter when Aussie forward Glenn Turner, after a brilliant assist by skipper Moritz Fuerste, ensured a 2-0 lead in the 18th minute.Though Dabang Mumbai had an opportunity to score in the 18th minute when they won their first PC, thanks to Robbert Kemperman, Harmanpreet Singh’s fiercely struck flick went straight to keeper Andrew Charter who promptly padded it away. German stalwart who has shown incredible form, especially with his drag flicks, was inch-perfect yet again when he successfully converted a PC in the 30th minute to take Kalinga Lancers lead to a comfortable 3-0. This was his ninth successful PC this season, taking his personal tally to an impressive 11 goals in the tournament.
Dabang Mumbai made a strong comeback after the 10-minute half-time break as they won their second PC of the match in the 33rd minute. An interesting set-piece saw Harmanpreet, instead of taking the flick himself, feed the ball to the injector who cleverly deflected the it to Affan Yousuf in front of the post to convert a goal taking their deficit to 1-3.
The final quarter witnessed some intense hockey with Dabang Mumbai hoping to pull off their trademark style of winning matches – to score in the final moments. They even came close to scoring when Yousuf and Nikkin Thimmaiah worked in tandem to score a field goal. After two failed attempts, Kieran Govers scored to equalize with just three minutes to go for the final hooter. However, a video referral in favour of the Kalinga Lancers denied them the clincher as it was a dangerous ball inside the striking circle. Dabang Mumbai also won three back-to-back PCs in the 57th minute but failed to make it count.
The action didn’t end there as Kalinga Lancers earned a PC in the 59th minute and Moritz Fuerste ensured he sealed the match for Kalinga Lancers with a splendid drag-flick that beat David Harte like a bullet, making him the joint highest goal scorer of the tournament along with teammate Glenn Turner.
Earlier in the day, the Uttar Pradesh Wizards beat Delhi Waveriders 5-4 in a closely-fought encounter to take home the third-place award of Rs 75.00 Lakhs. Though Delhi Waveriders took an early lead in the 15th minute with Justin Reid-Ross scoring a field goal, Shamsher Singh (18’) equalized for Uttar Pradesh Wizards. But the real turn around for Roelant Oltmans’ men came in the final quarter when Agustin Mazzilli scored an incredible field goal to give the Uttar Pradesh Wizards the winning edge. Gonzalo Peillat’s 38th minute goal had reduced the deficit for Uttar Pradesh Wizards to 3-4 after Delhi Waveriders skipper Rupinder Pal Singh had struck twice (24’ and 36’) to convert PCs.
The European Hockey family would like to congratulate Hockey India League for an excellent season. Also huge congratulations to all the European players, who certainly bring a lot to the HIL, we are looking forward to welcoming them all back in Europe and especially to see them back on European turf in the EHL and the EHC later this year!
Source material: HIL
Photographs: Frank Uijlenbroek (c)