Hockey India League Mumbai

Swann eyes Dabang turnaround

KEY PLAYER Captain Mathew Swann will be at the heart of Dabang Mumbai's attack. - PHOTO: PRASHANT NAKWE

KEY PLAYER Captain Mathew Swann will be at the heart of Dabang Mumbai's attack. - PHOTO: PRASHANT NAKWE  

Matthew Swann is of the view that the Hockey India League 2016 (HIL) will see close matches decided by a single goal. “The field goal rule will make it possible for a side trailing by one goal to overturn the result at the last minute, if the forwards manage to convert a field goal,” observed the Dabang Mumbai captain, at the Mahindra Stadium on Thursday.

He was replying to a query whether Kalinga Lancers’ 10-1 victory over UP Wizards will become the norm, instead of a rarity in the competitive league.

“UP Wizards is a decent side; it just happened that day. If you go by the first match between them, Kalinga won 8-6. So, both teams were involved in high-scoring games.”

The Aussie defender said that with each day, teams in the HIL were improving their cohesion and understanding, leading to the possibility of closer matches. “We played probably an anxious one and half games; the performance against Jaypee Punjab Warriors (JPW) was better than the opener. We hope to make it difficult for rivals to score against us.”

Dabang has lost two out of two so far (against Kalinga Lancers and JPW).

Swann will face one of the stronger teams in the HIL, Delhi Waveriders, runner-up in 2013 and champion in 2014, with a different set of players.

The Aussie, experienced and successful in his national colours of gold and green, points out that more Aussies (players and coaches) are seen in the Indian league due to the similarity in approach on the turf. “Australia and India tries to play attacking hockey,” he said.

He is a player to track, among the numerous Indian and international stars in action at the Mahindra Stadium, for calibre and experience.

Dabang, coached by Aussie great Jay Stacy, has a captain whose form in 2011 won him the FIH World Player of the Year award. Capped 129 times by Australia, he played for major clubs in Queensland and Bloemendaal in the Dutch league.

Lakra a fine player

Swann rates Birendra Lakra highly. “He is probably one of the finest players in the world in his position. Lakra is a quality defender and can assist the midfield,” said Swann, replying to a query about talented Indians in world hockey. Lakra is part of defending champion Ranchi Rays and is making a name for himself with his consistency and work ethic.

Delhi Waveriders, coached by ex-Mumbai and India coach Cedric D’Souza, won in 2014 with the iconic Sardara Singh directing operations in the midfield. The latter switched to JPW for HIL 2016.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 6:07:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Swann-eyes-Dabang-turnaround/article14025215.ece

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