HIL: Punjab eye first win against Ranchi
Punjab lost the opening match of the league on Monday to Delhi Waveriders by 2-1.
Jalandhar: Having suffered a defeat in their opening game of the Hero Hockey India League, Jaypee Punjab Warriors would look to get their act together when they take on Ranchi Rhinos here on Wednesday. Punjab fought well against Delhi Waveriders on Monday, but their forward-line failed to create enough goal-scoring opportunities, and that is something that the team think-tank would be looking at.
The likes of SV Sunil and Shivendra Singh would have to play a more attacking hockey if Punjab want to do better in the upcoming games. Their skipper Jamie Dwyer admitted after Monday's game that the team needed to combine a bit better.
"We didn't start the game well. I think, as a team, we still need to combine a bit better. Hopefully, we would start doing that in the next few games," the Aussie had said.
Although Punjab lost the match, there was one outstanding performer on their side - goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann of Netherlands. Stockmann easily made at least half a dozen saves that kept Warriors in the hunt unitl the end against Delhi. Punjab would hope to see a similar performance from the Dutchman, easily one of the top goalkeepers in this league.
On the other hand, Ranchi Rhinos would be hoping to get their HIL campaign off to a good start in an away game. Ranchi is one team in this league that has invested a lot in the local talent, and it would be interesting to see how the local youth joins hands with some top national and international stars.
The likes of Moritz Fuerste, Ashley Jackson, Austin Smith and Francisco Cortes would have the responsibility on their shoulders to guide the local talent. Then they have the young exciting player in Birendra Lakra. The man from Orissa, who scored the opening goal in India's London Olympics qualifying final, might be just 22, but there are a lot of expectations from him already. It would be exciting to see how he performs in this format.
The team composition of Punjab could be another interesting factor. They go into the game against Ranchi knowing that they have just a little over 24 hours before they take on Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the day's only match on Thursday. Hence, keeping all the players fit and giving them enough rest could be another challenge ahead for Punjab.
It was only after Punjab were down by two goals on Monday that they started to play aggressively. The team management would like to see the boys to be a bit more proactive on Wednesday.
Punjab's Simon Orchard said that their team have taken measures to counter the loopholes in their attack and defense, which was evident in their game on Monday. "We are confident in our performance tomorrow and will surely up our game and comeback strongly."
Ranchi captain Moritz Fuerste said: "We have closely followed yesterday's match and have created our strategies on those lines for tomorrow's game. Punjab is a strong team, but we have studied their game thoroughly and will certainly utilise our strategy against them. We are confident of putting up a good show."