Dabang Mumbai entered the finals of the fifth edition of Hockey India League by winning their semi-final match against Delhi Waveriders and will now face Kalinga Lancers in the final on Sunday.
Table toppers Dabang Mumbai, led by their skipper Florian Fuchs, rode on a 26th minute field goal by Dutch import Robbert Kemperman to beat Delhi Waveriders 2-0 and reach the summit clash.
Earlier, Kalinga Lancers defeated Uttar Pradesh Wizards via penalty shootout after both teams were locked 4-4 as the match went down to the wire. It was only in the sudden death that Lancers won 4-3.
While defending champions Punjab Warriors have already been knocked out of the competition, both Mumbai and Lancers have never won the title earlier.
For nearly 20 minutes, both Mumbai and Waveriders played cautiously before Mumbai earned their first penalty corner four minutes before the half-time.
Showing great skills, Mumbai’s Dutch import Robbert Kemperman converted the opportunity into a field goal and finally scored with an angular backhanded shot.
Barely a minute after Mumbai had scored, Waveriders got the golden opportunity to equalise when they earned a penalty stroke but they failed to convert the chance with Irish import David Harte, who recently won FIH goalkeeper of the year award, standing like a wall.
At the half-time, Mumbai were up 2-0, with field goal being counted as two as per the tournament rules.
In the remaining period, both teams fought hard, but the scoreline remained unchanged, even though Mumbai got a few close chances to increase their lead.
“It was a great team effort. I am happy that we reached the finals,” the Mumbai skipper said after the match.
For the losers of the two semi-finals today, Waveriders and UP Wizards, it was the failure to convert the penalty corner opportunities that came their way which let them down.