Having won their first ever Coal India Hockey India League, the Kalinga Lancers skipper expressed that he was very satisfied with the way the team performed this season to ensure they lifted their first-ever Coal India Hockey India League trophy.
“We had a very good season this year. From the start of the League I have been insisting that how we play in the Final matters the most and I am very happy with the way the team performed in the Final. Last year too, we had a very good run in the League but in the Final we couldn’t make it count.” expressed Moritz Fuerste, skipper of the Kalinga Lancers who beat Dabang Mumbai 4-1 in an exciting Final clash here on Sunday.
Fuerste along with Glenn Turner won the Dhruv Batra Maximum Goal Awards that came with a prize money of Rs 20 lakhs. When Fuerste was asked if he would consider coming out of retirement into the German squad, he jokingly said, “Maybe I will call my coach tomorrow. He might want the older guys to play for the national team.” On a serious note, he was quick to add that he would like to take the year off to spend time with his family before he plans to return to the national team in 2018.
With the League perfectly poised to make a transition with at least an additional franchise from Bangalore making it’s debut next year in 2018, Mark Hager, Kalinga Lancers Coach stated that it would be interesting to study the new rules of retaining players.”With a franchise from Bangalore coming in, retaining three Indian and three foreign players might be reduced to two Indian players. I don’t know. There will be a little bit of a change in the teams but ideally we would like to keep the team we played this year,” stated Hager.
He further insisted that the league has helped foreign players too as much as it has helped the Indian youngsters. “Back when I played, I never got to interact with other team players so much. But now, with the Coal India HIL, players develop a new bond and when they meet at a tournament outside for their national side, they share the same bond and know each other well,” Hager said.
Jay Stacy, Coach Dabang Mumbai, too insisted that it would be great if the franchise can retain players for the next season in 2018. “From the league perspective, when they went into the auction getting young players was a conscious effort. We got five U21 players who went on to win the Junior World Cup. Our priority was to lay a strong foundation this year. When you try to build a hockey club, a franchise puts in a lot of time and energy into developing players. We want to create a supporter base to cheer those players but we will only get to retain maybe six out of the 20 players as per the rules,” Stacy said.
Meanwhile, Florian Fuchs, stressed that the Dabang Mumbai were the best team this season despite a bitter loss to Kalinga Lancers in the Final. ”I think it was an outstanding season for Dabang Mumbai. We showed character and fought till the last minute. We turned games around, even in the final we scored in the last three minutes of the match. We believed in our strengths and we were the best team of the league stage and the Play Offs. We bonded very well and how we stayed as a team is something I would like to take back home as a fond memory from the League,” Fuchs said.