Fuerste on fire as Lancers claim first ever HIL title in front of packed stadium in Chandigarh
Germany legend Moritz Fuerste led from the front as Kalinga Lancers ended Dabang Mumbai’s dreams of lifting the coveted Coal India Hockey India League trophy in front of a capacity crowd at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium on Sunday (26th February).
Fuerste scored twice (30’ and 59’) while Glenn Turner struck their maiden goal in the 18th minute to help the Lancers claim their first ever title, winning the showpiece final 4-1. It was a wonderful moment for the Lancers – coached by New Zealand women's coach and former Australia international Mark Hager – who went one better than the runners up position that they achieved in 2016 to win the fifth edition of the world-renowned competition.
Dabang Mumbai, who topped the table in the league phase, showed great consistency through the competition and gave an excellent showing in the opening stages of the final to keep Kalinga’s defence busy.
Though the first quarter ended in a stalemate, Kalinga Lancers made quick progress in the second period when Australia forward Glenn Turner scored from open play following a brilliant assist by skipper Moritz Fuerste in the 18th minute. With field goals counting double in the HIL, the strike established a 2-0 lead for the Lancers.
A perfectly-executed penalty corner drag-flick from Fuerste made it 3-0 on the stroke of half time, beating FIH Goalkeeper of the Year 2016 David Harte to give his side much-needed breathing space ahead of the third and fourth quarters. It was Fuerste’s ninth penalty corner goal of this year’s HIL, and his 11th goal in total.
Dabang Mumbai hit back after half time when Affan Yousuf scored a close-range penalty corner to make the score 3-1, with Yousuf and Nikkin Thimmaiah going close before Kieran Govers had a strike ruled out three minutes from time. Kalinga’s killer blow arrived with just over a minute of the match remaining, with Fuerste producing another wonderful penalty corner effort to guarantee his side the title.
Earlier in the day, the Uttar Pradesh Wizards beat Delhi Waveriders 5-4 in a closely-fought encounter to take home the third-place award.
Big, bold and loud are hallmarks of the FIH Hockey Revolution and the HIL has yet again delivered on all fronts. For the fifth successive year, the event – which took place in cities across India – has seen the world's elite players representing six franchises in a glorious six-week celebration of all that is good about the game. All 34 matches were broadcast and streamed live, giving a global audience the chance to watch and admire the power, speed, skill and sheer professionalism of the players.
You can catch up on all the of the action from this year’s competition by visiting the Coal India Hockey India League website.
1: Kalinga Lancers
2: Dabang Mumbai
3: Uttar Pradesh Wizards
4: Delhi Waveriders
5: Ranchi Rays
6: Jaypee Punjab Warriors