New Delhi, Feb 13: Defending champions Delhi on Waveriders will aim at securing for themselves a semifil berth when they face joint-leaders Ranchi Rays in a Hero Hockey India League (HIL) encounter at the Major Dhyan Chand tiol Stadium here Saturday.
The fourth placed Waveriders have 17 points from seven matches and are eight points shy of third-placed Uttar Pradesh Wizards (25). They will be looking to encash this opportunity to strengthen their position in the league.
Rays — joint-leaders with Jaypee Punjab Warriors at 29 points — have already secured a last-four berth and will aim for a win with an intention to ascend to the top of the points-table.
The Harendra Singh-coached Rays have dished out consistent performances since the 3-6 drubbing in the opener against Kalinga Lancers.
They intend to carry on with similar energy and zeal in the impending games as well.
“The team is in an excellent form at the moment and absolutely ready to take on Delhi. The sole intention is to win this game and climb up to the first position in the League table,” Rays coach Harendra Singh said in a pre-match statement.
Rays captain Ashley Jackson is presently the joint top goal-scorer of the league, with eight goals — all scored through drag-flicking.
Waveriders, on the other hand, have only a couple of wins at this time and were held 2-2 by sixth-placed Lancers Thursday. They have played well in patches. Skipper Sardar Singh and pelty corner-specialist Rupinderpal Singh have looked off-colour.
However, their defence has received a boost following the return of German goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi. Jacobi missed the first six matches as he was busy representing his country in the Indoor Hockey World Cup.
Rays captain Jackson acknowledged the challenge the strikers face against Jacobi.
“Their defence gets beefed up with Nicolas Jacobi back in the team and we are working on our strategy to counter him. We are confident for a win but we are not taking them lightly.”
Waveriders, led by Indian skipper Sardar Singh, will have the benefit of playing on their home turf.
Ready to play against Rays, Waveriders coach Cedric D’Souza said: “The competition is getting tougher with every match as we can see all the teams are targeting to win every match hereon. We anticipate a good game tomorrow (Saturday) and will put in our best efforts to win this match.”IANS