Saturday, June 22, 2024

PHL: Rajasthan Patriots confident of reaching final, face Maharashtra Ironmen challenge

Rajasthan Patriots are confident of securing their berth in the Premier Handball League (PHL) final as they take on Maharashtra Ironmen in the first semifinal at Raja Sawai Mansingh Stadium, here on Saturday.

The Patriots finished the league campaign in third place and had beaten the same opponent by a margin of five goals in their last encounter of the league. They also got the better of Ironmen in the opening clash of the league.

Speaking to IANS ahead of the semifinal, Patriots captain and goalkeeper Atul Kumar sounded confident as he aims to continue the teams’ winning streak at the tournament.

“We will have the same strategy as we have been playing well, and won’t take the pressure of semifinals at all. We are going into the semifinals with a winning momentum,” Atul said.

The 32-year-old skipper has been the most vital player of the Rajasthan side making crucial saves. He is the most successful goalkeeper in the league with over 134 saves in the tournament so far.

“No matter what my personal figures are, team spirit is as much as needed to ensure the win,” he added.

The Patriots attack line has been in fine form throughout the league with Hardev Singh, Happy Singh, Mohit Ghanghas, Arjun Lakra, Sumit Kumar and Robin Singh scoring consistently. Amrinder Singh who was included in the squad recently has added a different dimension for the team.

Russia’s Dmitri Kirieev has been vital for the Patriots with his powerful long rangers and penalty conversions. They also have a good bench strength with Manish Malik and Ahmad Al – Otabi rising to the occasion whenever called upon.

Asked about the contribution of foreign players, Atul said: “They (foreign players) are bonding well with us. We are using Dimitri very well in pressure situations. He tells us before the match what to do, and also discusses it with the coach. The amount of international experience he has come in handy in winning matches.”

On the other hand, Ironmen will take the field in search of their first win in the third attempt against the Patriots in a high-pressure game. They topped the league table aided by consistent performances by Igor Chiseliov, Sumit Ghanghas and Jalal Kiani.

Goalkeeper Manjeet Kumar has also been in great form and will dent the attacking prowess of the Patriots.

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