Hockey National C'ships: Top four teams to battle it for spot in finals

Image Source: ANI

Pune (Maharashtra) [India], December 19 (ANI): The semi-finals of the 11th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship Pimpri Chinchwad 2021 is around the corner and the top four teams- Uttar Pradesh Hockey, Hockey Karnataka, Hockey Maharashtra and Hockey Punjab will battle it out on Monday for a place in the finals.

The first semi-final will witness Uttar Pradesh Hockey taking on Hockey Karnataka. Both teams are coming off a hard-fought win in their respective quarter-final matches.

Uttar Pradesh Hockey edged out Hockey Haryana 2-1 in the third quarter-final on Saturday. Mohammad Amir Khan (13′) and Mohd Sadiq (25′) were the goalscorers for Uttar Pradesh Hockey while captain Mandeep (13′) was the lone goalscorer for Hockey Haryana.

“Team is in good rhythm, and we are focused on maintaining it. It will be a challenging semi-final for us, but the boys are really confident, and hopefully, we will do well to qualify for the final,” said Uttar Pradesh Hockey Coach Paramjeet Singh as per a Hockey India release.

Their opponent Hockey Karnataka, who are currently the second-highest goalscoring team in the tournament (35 goals), will look to capitalise on their fine run of form. Hockey Karnataka Coach Pradeep Kumar R P said that his team is expecting a tight match against Uttar Pradesh Hockey and they are prepared for it both mentally and physically.

“Firstly, Senior Nationals is not an easy tournament, every team has solid players, and of course, Uttar Pradesh Hockey is a strong team. We are expecting a tight match, anybody who make mistake will lose, and that’s how it is going to be tomorrow. I must say, my boys are doing really well, they’ve improved match-by-match, and I think we are set for the semis. The boys are mentally prepared, and physically as well, they are in a good mood to play the match,” said Hockey Karnataka Coach Pradeep Kumar R P.

Meanwhile, Hockey Maharashtra held their nerves to script a thrilling 2-0 win in the shootout against the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu in the fourth quarter-final on Saturday. Karthi S (46′ & 48′) scored a brace for Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu while Pratap Kishanrao Shinde (8′) and Captain Taleb Shah (60′) scored a goal each to help their team Hockey Maharashtra earn a 2-2 draw in the regulation time.

Speaking about the team’s performance Hockey Maharashtra Coach Edgar Joseph Mascarenhas said, “In every meeting, I’ve always told my boys to play till the last whistle, and have faith in yourselves that you can get victory point till the end. And, I think this belief made us fight till the end and we got our goal in the last 30 seconds. I was confident about the team’s victory in the shootout, and our goalkeeper Akash Chikte did really well.”

“We are ready to counter Hockey Punjab in the Semi-Final, we know their style of play, and we will play the hockey that we have planned to play. It will be a tough game, no doubt, but we are prepared to play them, and it won’t be easy for them as well,” he added.

Speaking about the semi-final clash, Hockey Punjab Coach Balwinder Singh said, “It’s a young side, around 10 players are playing their nationals for the first time. I am happy with the performance they have put in so far. We have the advantage of Olympic Bronze Medalist Rupinder Pal Singh, he has been guiding these young players really well. The match against Hockey Maharashtra will be 50-50, it will be a good game of hockey, for sure.” (ANI)

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