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Posted on Jan 19, 09:56PM | IBNS
Two teams that surprisingly find themselves at the bottom of the points table face each other when Jaypee Punjab Warriors take on Mumbai Magicians in Hockey India League (HIL) here Sunday.
In this evening game, Magicians would play for the first time at home this season. Warriors have had a horrendous start to their campaign, losing three games on the trot. Magicians' start to the event hasn't been any better, losing both their games so far, including the loss to Ranchi Rhinos on Friday evening.
For both the teams, Sunday's game is as much a challenge mentally, as it is physically. Keeping their morale high despite having suffered a poor start is something that both the team managements would be trying to do.
Mumbai Magicians were outplayed by a spirited Ranchi Rhinos team on Friday evening, and Magicians would need to recover quickly from that loss. They opted to sit back and weather the storm on Friday, and paid a heavy price for it, as Rhinos had already scored three goals by the end of the second quarter.
Magicians would have learned their lessons from that loss, and would be keen to be a lot more proactive against Warriors on Sunday. The vociferous support was one of major factors in Rhinos win on Friday, and Magicians would be happy that on Sunday, they play at home. They would be hoping to ride on a strong home fans support, which can really lift spirits in such important games.
The challenge for Warriors is not easy either. They have conceded at least two goals in each of their three games so far, and the defence line would be under pressure to perform. Their star goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann's error in their last game handed Uttar Pradesh Wizards the lead.
Stockmann has set high standards for himself, and would be disappointed with his error against Wizards. Having said that, Stockmann is too experienced player to let such errors affect his focus and concentration.
At a pre match press meet, Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Coach Barry Dancer, said "It was very unfortunate that we lost the previous matches. The Big difference between winning and losing was the conversion rate. It has been less than the opposition team. This is one major thing that we as a team are focusing on. For every team, understanding the combinations, the strengths and weaknesses will take time but I am very confident that this team will play good hockey throughout the tournament".
"I am not happy with the last two matches, but we as a team are only looking at trying our best to play well. At the end we can only control how we play and focus on our strengths while playing our opponents," said Jamie Dwyer, captain Jaypee Punjab Warriors.