- Ranchi Rays with more experience and Kalinga Lancers with support from the home crowd promises to be a spectacular opener to the League
- – Look out for Gurjinder Singh: Jude Felix
New Delhi, 21 January 2015: The third season of the Hero Hockey India League is all set to commence from 22 January 2015 and will see Ranchi Rays and Kalinga Lancers fighting it out in the opening match of the league, where Kalinga Lancers will be supported by an enthusiastic home crowd while Ranchi Rays’ will be seen exercising their experience in the league.
The two teams met each other twice last year during the Hero Hockey India League 2014, where the first match was won by Ranchi, with Kalinga Lancers striking back in the second match going on to settle scores. While the scores were settled in the last edition it will be interesting to see who will have the better of the other in the opening match tomorrow.
Recently announced as the Captain of the team, midfielder Ashley Jackson will be seen leading the Ranchi Rays’ squad along with the strong support of Mandeep Singh, Nicolas Wilson and Trent Mitton at the forward line-up, Kothajit Singh, Manpreet Singh, Austin Smith, Barry Middleton at the midfield along with Birendra Lakra, Nick Budgeon and Amit Rohidas at defence. While there will huge expectations from Trent Mitton who would be for the first time representing Ranchi Rays this year, Captain Ashley Jackson will also have to play an important role of converting the penalty corners. With Tyler Lovell coming in as the Goalkeeper for the team the Ranchi unit looks strong and ready to take on the challenge of the upcoming league and will be looking at repeating the feat of the first edition and taking home the Trophy.
Coming into the League as the newly announced Captain, midfielder Vickram Kanth, the Kalinga Lancers on the other hand will see an equally competitive line-up, being supported by Lalit Upadhyay, Roshan Minz, Lucas Villa and Russell Ford as forwards, Devinder Sunil Walmiki, Kiel Brown, and Glenn Simpson as midfielders along with defenders like Gurjinder Singh, Gonzalo Peillat and Ramon Alegre. Picked up by Kalinga Lancers this year, all eyes will be on the young Gurjinder Singh who was seen converting important penalty corners in the recently culminated Champions Trophy. Along with him the team will be looking up to Gonzalo Peillat whose tally of 8 goals in the last edition made him the second player who scored the most goals.
Where majority of the Ranchi squad will be playing for the third consecutive time in the Hero Hockey India League, Kalinga Lancers will not allow deterring their spirits to go for the kill.
Commencing their journey in the Hero Hockey India League in 2014, though Kalinga Lancers finished sixth in their maiden league, the team successfully managed to give its opponents a run for their money and were even regarded as the ones who could create the upset in the League last year. This year again with a strong line-up each team will be aware that they should not be taken lightly as they have the easy capability to beat any team on any given day.
With preparations picking up pace in both the clans, the opening match holds utmost importance for the two to make their presence felt in the tournament. Hence, the inaugural battle between the Ranchi Rays and Kalinga Lancers will promise an action packed opening to the much awaited league.
Speaking on the preparations, Head Coach Jude Felix of Kalinga Lancers said, “This will be our second outing in the Hero Hockey India League and leaving behind the bygones, we look forward to the upcoming edition with a fresh perspective. All the strategies are in place and all the players are in their best form. We expect our opening match of the league against Ranchi Rays to be much favourable for us as we will be playing the match in front of our home crowd and their support. The opponents should look out for Gurjinder Singh for his ability to convert the penalty corners and his inclusion in the team strengthens our defence too. Also his inclusion gives the much required support to Gonzalo Peillat who has to his credit of converting 7 penalty corners in the last edition.” He further added, “We are excited about the third season of Hero Hockey India League. Three new players have joined in and we surely look good. Last season our team was new but towards the end everyone came together. I don’t think that any team in the league is ‘extra’ strong as all teams have good players equally divided amongst themselves and are therefore equally balanced.”
Adding further to the Coach, Kalinga Lancers’ Captain Vickram Kanth said, “The whole team is pepped up and looking forward for the match, as it not only is the inaugural match of the league but is also an extremely important one for us, as we look forward to open the league with a win and continue the streak thereafter. We played against the Ranchi squad last year, where we lost one match and won the second, this year again we will be playing two matches but this time we are looking at concluding both the matches in our favour. We are very excited that Andrew Charter will be holding the fort at the goal post and this makes us feel very confident. Also, it is a new team with some new players and new mindset in the team. All of us have a positive mindset towards the league and will surely give our best.”
Speaking on the upcoming match, Ranchi Rays’ Head Coach Harendra Singh said, “Being an experienced bunch of players, Ranchi Rays are completely ready to take-off their expedition in the League. With just the right mix of new as well as previously undertaken strategies, the boys are entirely focussed and confident ahead of the opening match. Despite the fact that the opposition team will enjoy the benefit of home ground, that shall not prevent the boys from giving their best against the Lancers. I am hoping for a successful League for Ranchi Rays and wish each of the participating players and team a very best of luck.”
Looking forward to the match, Captain Ashley Jackson of Ranchi Rays said, “We have a strong team, it’s new and strong. International players have come into the team. These along with fantastic Indian players make for a very strong team.” On being asked about how his captaincy will change his game, Ashley Jackson said, “I don’t change too much. I play my game and try to be myself as much as possible. My job is to make the team as strong as possible. We are here to the League. Of course, no one can win all the games but our aim is to win as many as possible to enter the semis. We will then strategise to enter the finals. It is a step by step process. It is a tough league, all teams are very strong and we hope to come out winners.”