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Punjab Warriors aim to remain on top in Hockey India League

Will Punjab be the first team to enter the semi-finals? Mohali, Feb 6 (IANS): Front-runners Punjab Warriors aim to get their act together after an ...

Will Punjab be the first team to enter the semi-finals?

Mohali, Feb 6 (IANS): Front-runners Punjab Warriors aim to get their act together after an away loss when they take on defending champions Delhi Waveriders in a Hero Hockey India League (HIL) encounter at the International Hockey Stadium here Saturday.

Warriors saw their unbeaten run of one draw and four victories being halted by Uttar Pradesh Wizards Wednesday. They lost 1-2 to Uttar Pradesh Wizards in Lucknow.

They will look to forget their last match and refocus against a side that is gaining momentum.

"We are improving with each match. We started slow in the league but are coming back strong. We are looking at continuing the form," Waveriders skipper Sardar Singh said.

Another win for the iconic Australian Jamie Dwyer-led side will further cement their place at the top. They have 23 points.

Warriors conceded two early goals against Wizards, before losing 1-2. Coach Barry Dancer urged the defence to be ready from the begining.

"Tomorrow we will have to ensure that we do not give away early goals. We have to attack their D (circle) and capitalise each opportunity that we get to score," Dancer said.

"While we are sitting on top of the points table, tomorrow's win will strengthen our position further. Penalty corners will be the key tomorrow and we hope to covert them."

However, Warriors can take confidence from their 3-1 triumph against centre-half Sardar-led Waveriders.

Waveriders have been gaining momentum in the League and will be looking at giving a strong fight to Warriors. What is going in the team's favour lately is the defence and seamless coordination amongst all members of the team.

Be it the clean passes in the rival D between Simon Child, Akashdeep Singh and Lloyd Norris Jones, or the strong defence of Gurbaj Singh, Steven Edwards and Rupinder Pal Singh, the team is clearly in form.

Penalty corner specialists Rupinder and New Zealander Andy Hayward are't in the best forms and that is a big headache for coach Cedric D'Souza.

"While we won our last match, but I wasn't satisfied with it. We could have done better. We will have to work on our attack and find ways to penetrate better," Cedric said.

On the other hand, hosts Warriors have a strong advantage of widely regarded world's best goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann.

While Dwyer will be looking upto Sandeep Singh to convert the penalty corners, he is confident of putting required pressure on Waveriders to earn the goals along with S.V. Sunil.

Anticipating a win against Waveriders, Dwyer said: "We are working on our penalty corners as this was a loophole in our last clash against UP Wizards. The aim will be to put pressure on Delhi right from the beginning and work on all fronts beginning with defence, good goalkeeping and attacking strategy."

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