Mumbai Magicians searching for elusive victory

Mumbai, Jan 29 (IANS) Bottom placed Dabur Mumbai Magicians would be hoping to register their maiden victory in the inaugural edition of the Hero Hockey India League Wednesday when they take on Uttar Pradesh Wizards in their eighth league encounter at the Mahindra Hockey stadium here.

The Ric Charlesworth coached side has put up a much improved performance in their last few games on the road but victory has always eluded the Magicians due to lapse in concentration in the second half of the match.

Mid-fielder Matthew Butturini gave voice to the frustration of the team after their 2-1 loss against Ranchi Rhinos Monday.

"We are improving as a team but still chasing that elusive win. Hopefully we are going to play a couple of games at home and hopefully we will find that victory," he said.

The Magicians have just seven points from their seven encounters and face a must-win situation in all their last five encounters if they have to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.

And they would not get a better opposition than Uttar Pradesh Wizards who are themselves on the downward spiral after losing all their last three encounters in the tournament.

The Wizards began their campaign on a promising note and had two victories and two draws to show for their effort from the first four matches. However, they crumbled under the sustained attack of Ranchi Rhinos away from home and since then have struggled to find that winning touch again.

Like the Magicians, who have heavily depended on tournament's highest scorer Sandeep Singh to find the goals, the Wizards forward line has also struggled to find the goals with the exception of Dutchman Jeroen Hertzberger.

Captain V.R. Raghunath has scored five goals with his trademark drag-flicks and Hertzberger four with just one more goal coming from open play in their seven outings in the tournament so far.

The Magicians also face similar problem in offence. But it is the defence of the Magicians that is a cause of worry still. The team has consistently leaked goals in the last two quarters and the Wizards would look to just stay solid in the first half and exploit the chinks in the Magicians defence closer to the final hooter.

"We are playing Mumbai Magicians for the first time tomorrow. We want to forget all the negativities that we have had in our last couple of matches. We are looking forward to start a fresh and make a comeback at the top position in the points table. For tomorrow's game, we would be going with our full preparation," said Raghunath.

Sandeep said: "We are going all out in tomorrow's match and will give our hundred percent. The team is really fired up for their match. The youngsters in the team will be well prepared tomorrow and we will be ready to take on Uttar Pradesh Wizards".

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