HIL: Kalinga beat Mumbai to clinch maiden title

Captain Moritz Furste’s penalty corner brace powered Kalinga Lancers past Dabang Mumbai 4-1 in the final to clinch their maiden title in the Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

Furste also had a big hand in Glenn Turner’s deflection field goal in the 18th minute that gave Kalinga the 2-0 lead and the veteran German (30th and 59th minutes) scored either side of Affan Yousuf’s goal in the 33rd minute as Kalinga atoned for their poor show in last edition’s final loss to Jaypee Punjab Warriors.

Earlier in the day, Uttar Pradesh Wizards beat Delhi Waveriders 5-4 in the bronze medal match thanks to Agustin Mazzilli’s late strike. Argentine forward Mazzilli struck with a point-blank deflection goal as UP Wizards took the 5-4 lead after Rupinder Pal Singh’s twin penalty corner goals put Delhi ahead.

Mandeep Singh had given the lead that was cancelled out by Shamsher Singh’s deflection. But Mazzilli provided the winner in the 57th minute to secure the win for the Lucknow-based side.

But the ultimate glory was left for UP Wizards’ semi-final conqueror Kalinga, the Bhubaneswar-based outfit that showcased throughout the tournament that ball possession is not the most important thing.

Mumbai seemed impressive from the beginning, holding the ball more than their opponent but they struggled to put the ball in the back of the net.

Kalinga, who play an all-out attack game, drew the first blood as Australian Turner put a faint touch to a Furste drive as the ball slipped between the legs of a diving goalkeeper David Harte.

Mumbai’s response to the goal was quick and strong. They earned a penalty corner but Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was put away by Kalinga goalkeeper Andrew Charter. Then few seconds later, Florian Fuchs saw one of his back-handers from a tight angle going inches away from the far post at the right far post.

Mumbai were gaining momentum and German Fuchs, this time, from the right, fired a diagonal shot wide off the left post.

However, Kalinga got another opportunity and Furste drag-flicked to the right past Harte to give the eastern outfit a 3-0 lead 30 seconds before the half-time. It was the illustrious German’s 11th goal of the campaign.

However, Mumbai pulled one back as Yousuf deflected in a cross from Sander de Wijn, who pushed the ball in a penalty corner execution in the 33rd minute.

The goal boosted the confidence of Mumbai and since they have made a habit of making comebacks during the league phase, Kalinga knew it and defended with urgency.

Jay Stacy-coached Mumbai charged ahead for the equaliser and came close to pullig it off only to be denied by Charter, definitely one of the best players of the tournament.

Kieran Govers thought he equalised for Mumbai in the 57th minute in a goal-melee but the goal was reviewed by Kalinga and they kept their referral as the the Australian had brought down an aerial ball that was not aimed at the goal-post.

Ninety seconds later, Furste put the win for Kalinga beyond doubt with a blistering flick, to kill off the contest and trigger wild celebrations in his side’s camp.

Kalinga’s goal-scorers, Turner and Furste shared the maximum goal-scoring chart with 12 goals each in the successful campaign. Both of them got richer by Rs 20 lakh each.

Furste said that his team peaked at the knock-outs. “We thought that the first 10 games (league stage) were warm-ups as we had to win this. We always thought about winning the trophy,” the costliest player of the league with $105,000 price tag stated.

His young compatriot at Mumbai camp, Fuchs was named the player of the tournament and received Rs 50 lakh for driving them to their maiden final. The $96,000 German import slammed eight goals in the tournament.

“We should be proud of our achievement,” Fuchs, who also got the Hero achiever award, said during the presentation ceremony here.

Among others, Harmanpreet Singh of Mumbai got the upcoming player of the tournament award for scoring seven goals in the league.