New Delhi: After a shaky start, former champions Delhi Waveriders would be eyeing for the elusive maiden win when they take on defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the fifth edition of Hockey India League on home turf on Tuesday.
The Waveriders, who won the second edition of the tournament in 2014, are presently lying at the bottom of the table with one draw and two losses from three matches.
The Waveriders' two losses came against Kalinga Lancers (0-1) and Dabang Mumbai (2-3) while they played a goalless draw against Ranchi Rays.
And on Tuesday, the Rupinder Pal Singh-led side would be hoping to take advantage of home conditions and register their first win of the season at the Shivaji Stadium in Delhi.
Even though the Waveriders are yet to win a match, coach Cedric D'Souza is satisfied with the performance of his players with his only blemish being their inability to make the opportunities count.
"Our team performance has been good but we didn't convert our chances. I'm happy with our structure but disappointed that we didn't win a match yet," D'Souza said on the eve of their first home match.
"We played to the best of our abilities but failed to put in goals. But I believe in my players and I am confident that they will perform to the best of their ability in their home venue tomorrow," he said.
"We conceded just four goals in the three matches."
The Waveriders along with Punjab Warriors and Uttar Pradesh Wizards have so far played just three games in the tournament, while league leaders Dabang Mumbai, Kalinga Lancers and Ranchi Rays have featured in seven matches.
The Waveriders will return to action after a week having played their last game on 30 January.
Asked about the erratic scheduling, D'Souza said, "The scheduling is beyond our control. What is in our control is to adapt to the situations and play to the best of our potential."
The Waveriders' young forward line has failed to fire till now and the hosts would be looking forward to its Junior World Cup-winning team heroes Mandeep Singh, Harjeet Singh, Santa Singh and Parvinder Singh to get off the blocks.
D'Souza would also be hoping for a better showing from his foreign recruits – Simon Child, Justin Reid-Ross and Manuel Brunet.
But, there is still a long way to go in the tournament and all the teams have a chance to finish in the top four and qualify for the semi-finals.
"It will go down to the wire. We will not know who will qualify till the last match," D'Souza said.
Waveriders skipper Rupinder agreed with D'Souza and said results didn't come their way in the first three games.
"In the first three games our performance was good but results didn't come. But it's good that we have plenty of matches in our hand," he said.
Punjab Warriors, too, didn't have a good start to the season and are languishing at the fifth position in six-team event with one win and two defeats from three games.
And the title holders would also be hoping to get their act together in the tournament.
With the likes of Mink van der Weerden, Jacob Whetton, SV Sunil, Matt Gohdes, talismanic Sardar Singh and Mark Knowles in their ranks, Punjab Warriors are a strong contender to defend their title.
Punjab Warriors are known to play attacking hockey and team's coach Barry Dancer said they would continue to play in similar fashion in the remainder of the tournament.
"If you look at our matches so far we have scored plenty of goals. Our style is to play aggressive hockey and we will continue to do that. It will be a battle between our attack and Delhi's defence tomorrow," Dancer said.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Feb 06, 2017 16:03:14 IST