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Defending Champions Ranchi Rhinos meets UP Wizards tomorrow on their home ground in the 2nd edition of Hero Hockey India League

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New Delhi, 25 January 2014: While the world is waiting for the 2nd edition of Hero Hockey India League to kick-start in Mohali later in the evening today, here in Ranchi defending champions Ranchi Rhinos and last year’s 3rd seeded – UP Wizards are gearing to meet tomorrow on the former’s home ground. While last year’s semi-final clash against the Rhinos will still be fresh in the minds of the Wizards where they lost to them and in the process missed the bus to the finale of the 1st edition of Hero Hockey India League, Rhinos will look at continuing where they left last year – their winning run. What will be interesting to see that both the teams will again meet on the same ground and the Wizards realise that the Rhinos play their best hockey in front of their home crowd.

 In the 1st edition of the League, Ranchi Rhinos met the Wizards on four occasions and they won 3 matches out of the 4. While the Rhinos will want to continue this form against the Wizards this year again, the latter this time will want to come back with a vengeance and ensure they settle scores with them. While Wizards will want to start the league with a win, Rhinos will ensure that the Wizards do not get the better of them on their home turf.

Coach Gregg Clark will be hoping that his team will be able to defend the title but he also realises that all teams this year have studied every player and teams closely and will not repeat those mistakes which costed them the Champions title last year. He will be looking at last year’s highest goal scorer for the team – Mandeep Singh to continue his dream run of scoring goals. With Olympic champion Floris Evers, the team always feels motivated by his presence and the value that he adds by guiding the young boys. Team Captain and Olympic Champion Moritz Füerste will yet again lead from the front and ensure that the team sticks to basics and doesn’t come under pressure during crucial matches. 

Though last year the Wizards played good and reached the semi-finals, this year they will ensure that they continue the form again and win the matches that matters which, ensures going ahead in the tournament. V R Raghunath will yet again captain the team and will also be aiming at scoring for the team and winning matches. He will also look at Olympic Champion Teun de Nooijer’s experience and guidance and also the entire team playing good hockey which will help ensure that they lift the dream trophy this year.

Tomorrow will be a big day as everyone will want to watch the Rhinos performing and to see whether they still have the zeal to win the title again and even the Wizards answer post their semi-final clash against the home team last year.

Speaking during a press conference Head Coach Roelant Oltmans, UP Wizards said ““We are a little short of practice due to the just concluded World hockey League but over all we are gearing up for the performance. This time we have three foreign players and 4 new Indian players in the team. With this we expect to perform better. I am impressed with the performance of Indian players, they are going in right direction.”

Speaking on tomorrow’s first match Captain V. R. Raghutnath, UP Wizards said “It’s the first match of the second edition of Hero hockey India League and therefore the excitement is must. The expectations from the match are also high. We are looking forward to the match. It is important to begin the tournament in a positive mode as it sets the tone right for the tournament.”

Speaking during a press conference Head Coach Gregg Clark, Ranchi Rhinos said “There is always a pressure on the team as we are the current champions. In the last edition too Delhi was on the top but we came back strongly.  In our first encounter, we are up against a good team and an impressive side too. We have a young side with high energy. Last year we had good crowd support in Ranchi hope we get the same this year too.

The match between Ranchi Rhinos and Uttar Pradesh Wizards will start at 1800hrs on 26 January 2014. With Star Sports as the official broadcasters for the League, Hockey fans can catch the excitement LIVE on the channel.

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