Ashley Jackson aims to steer the Rays to the finals as the Wizards bank upon P.R Sreejesh to guard their fort
New Delhi, 20 February 2015: The turf of Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium will witness another nerve-wrecking game of hockey as the impressive Uttar Pradesh Wizards will take on the remarkable Ranchi Rays in the first semi final of the Hero Hockey India League 2015. The two teams will lock horns with each other on 21 February 2015 with a single motive to outdo the other and reach the prestigious finals of the League scheduled to be played on Sunday, the 22nd.
The League till now has seen both the two teams playing with complete fervour as both of them have the knack to turn the tables in their favour at any point in the match. Prior to the semis, the Wizards and Rays have clashed twice in the league games with Ranchi Rays emerging victorious in both the matches as Uttar Pradesh Wizards went down struggling to lose the games by only a whisker.
Roelant coached Uttar Pradesh Wizards has a formidable line up of players who have the competence to defeat any team on any given day. With their star goalkeeper P.R Sreejesh under the bar, defender duo of Wouter Jolie and V.R Raghunath will employ their best skills to convert the penalty corners into the vital goals for their side. The ace drag flicker – Raghunath has led his side to the semi finals of both the previous seasons of Hockey India League and this semi final being the third for the Wizards, the team will be looking to advance to the next stage of the League with a thunderous win over the Ranchi Rays. The Wizards also have the strong support of Ramandeep Singh who has made a brilliant comeback this season and is lending a very significant helping hand to Jeroen Hertzberger in further strengthening the forward line. With Bob De Voogd and Pradeep Mor taking care of the midfield in the semis, the entire Uttar Pradesh Wizards will step out on the ground to play with utmost coordination and clarity to ensure a way in into the finals of the League.
Amid an impressive array of foreign and domestic players, Ranchi Rays have dished out some absolutely astounding and beyond belief performances in the league matches as of yet. Striking a dramatic hat-trick in the last pool game, Captain Ashley Jackson shines bright with 11 goals to his name at this time and is perfectly held up by the English midfielder Barry Middleton and Indian defender Birendra Lakra. With Tyler Lovell guarding the nets for the side, Birendra Lakra and Justin Reid Ross will take care getting the penalty corners for the team as it will play a pivotal role in Ranchi Rays’ stride towards the finals. It is a team with a great formidable line-up and a team where all departments are delivering. From here the entire unit will look at continuing their form and winning momentum as they would like to repeat the feat of the first edition of the Hero Hockey India League.
Confident of a good show tomorrow, Coach of Uttar Pradesh Wizards said, “It’s a big game tomorrow. We need to perform to our highest level that we have ever performed in the tournament. It’s a clash for the run to the final. We have to perform in the best possible way so that we have a chance to play the final of Hockey India League, this season.”
Speaking ahead of the semi final, Captain of Ranchi Rays Ashley Jackson said, “The team has been in great form in the entire League and from here we have to ensure we continue the same in the knocked out stage also. Each player will have to deliver to beat the Wizards as they with each game have got stronger in all departments. Our focus will be to penetrate the D and create the penalty corners for ourselves as much as possible. Personally i will look at converting the penalty corners that the team gets. We will go on the attack from the start and ensure possession.”
Remarking on the impending match, Coach of Ranchi Rays, Harendra Singh said, “We have entered the knock-out stage and faltering is no option for us. The boys will have to ensure that they attack and do not allow them to put pressure on us. I am confident of a positive result. We will look at continuing our form tomorrow. Penalty corners will be the key tomorrow and the boys are ready for it.”
Uttar Pradesh Wizards will play against Ranchi Rays on Saturday 21 February 2015 at 1630 HRS IST at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi.