What’s the story?
The Delhi Waveriders recorded their first win in five games after defeating the UP Wizards 8-1 at the Shivaji Stadium in New Delhi. It was forward Mandeep Singh who set the tone for his side’s victory, scoring two field goals in the first half along with a classy assist.
The 22-year old opened the scoring in the 4th minute before the Wizards halved the deficit with a VR Raghunath penalty corner conversion. The turning point came at the end of the second quarter as Mandeep pounced on a loose ball in the ‘D’ to make it 4-1 with just five seconds left. The gloss was added to a fine victory with field goals from Parvinder Singh and Austin Smith in the 57th and 58th minute.
The Waveriders coach Cedric D’Souza was naturally relieved with the win. In the post-match press conference, he said, “I’m happy we put away our chances today. We stuck to the philosophy we had followed since our first game and with the early start we got with Mandeep’s goal, we were able to take charge and control play.”
The former India coach also revealed that all his players were given individual clips of themselves after their loss to Punjab and were made to analyse them and figure out how to play better against the UP side.
Mandeep stated after the match that his team were under a lot of pressure after going winless in their first four games and he was happy to contribute to the side’s victory. He added, “I am proud I was able to put up a good show in front of Mr. Oltmans. Hopefully, this will improve my chances in the senior side as well.”
Oltmans, the current India coach and the UP Wizards coach as well, was full of praise for the youngster. “We knew about his talent and we knew that he was always going to be a threat. He had played well yesterday against Punjab too. He is a great player to have for any team and his first goal was quite beautiful,” said the Dutchman.
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The Delhi Waveriders had endured a difficult start to the tournament after one draw and three losses in their first four games. This match against the Wizards was their second at home and with the elusive first win in the bag, they will look to build on it.
The UP Wizards, who will now move to Lucknow for their home leg, are placed at the bottom of the table with one win, one draw and two losses from their four games.
The heart of the matter
Mandeep was part of the Indian side that lifted the junior World Cup last year in Lucknow and had even scored for the senior national team. He was a livewire in attack and put extreme pressure on the opposition’s defenders with his dribbling, direct running and smart finishing.
He put in a virtuoso performance that demonstrated his wide skill set. His first goal came after he sprinted to a long through-pass before turning a defender inside-out and finishing through PR Sreejesh’s legs with a reverse shot.
His second was a typical poacher’s goal as he reacted sharply to a loose ball during a goalmouth scramble. He also assisted the third goal for his side as he beat a defender and played in Parvinder Singh with a fine pass, who only had the keeper to beat.
The Delhi side will get some much-needed rest after two games in two days and will face the Kalinga Lancers next on February 12. The Lancers will travel to Lucknow before that tie as they face the UP Warriors in their first home fixture on February 10.
After a series of close shaves and disappointing results, Delhi finally got their campaign back on track with a clinical performance. It was heartening to see the Indian contingent, led by Mandeep Singh, getting on the score sheet and putting in some excellent performances.