Kalinga's Furste happy with team's improved performance in HIL

Kalinga Lancers HILChandigarh: Having won their first ever Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) title, Kalinga Lancers skipper Moritz Furste said that he was satisfied with the way the players lifted themselves after finishing runners-up in the last edition.

Furste's penalty corner brace powered Kalinga past Dabang Mumbai 4-1 in the summit clash to clinch their maiden title here on Sunday.

"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," Furste said.

"Last year too, we had a very good run in the League but in the Final we couldn't make it count." he added.

Furste along with Glenn Turner, who slammed 12 goals, won the maximum goal awards that came with a prize money of Rs 20 lakh.

With the league perfectly poised to make a transition with at least an additional franchise from Bengaluru making it's debut in 2018, Kalinga Lancers coach Mark Hager stated that it would be interesting to study the new rules of retaining players.

"With a franchise from Bengaluru 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 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 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.

Dabang Mumbai's coach Jay Stacy 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 U-21 players who went on to win the Junior World Cup. Our priority was to lay a strong foundation this year," he said.

"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 added.

Meanwhile, Mumbai's skipper Florian Fuchs stressed that his team was the best team this season despite a bitter loss to Kalinga 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," Fuchs said.

"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," he added.