New captain Fuchs ready to inspire Dabang Mumbai to maiden HIL glory

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Striker Florian Fuchs was the youngest member of the German squad that clinched the gold at the 2012 London Olympics. Four years later, he bagged another medal, a bronze in Rio. Over the past four years, he has emerged as a leader. With the German team experiencing a transformation phase, responsibility came early for him. Witnessing him deliver under pressure as the leader of the German attack, his Hockey India League (HIL) franchise Dabang Mumbai too has cashed it on him, naming him their captain in the absence of injured Matthew Swann.

And this way, the 25-year-old has also quickly learnt how to lead a team. “It is about time and the progress you make. I was the youngest in the 2012 side and over the years, I have taken responsibility higher up the pitch. Positional and mode of responsibity also changed. Now I know how to give opportunity to the younger guys and helping them adjust to the team environment,” Fuchs told IANS on Friday, a day before his team faces Ranchi Rays in HIL’s opening match.

“Dabang Mumbai captaincy is a big honour. Last year Swann and under him everything was collaborative. He was always chatting and talking to the young players. Also, as a professional group, we keep talking and pushing each other. In Mumbai, we have a lot of great professionals and they are ready to take that responsibility,” the $96,000 import added.

The 2012 World Junior Player of the Year also spoke about how Mumbai stand at a good place to make to the play-offs for the first time.

“We started (the training) whole different better than last year. We have started at a higher level than last year. We know each other well and have almost the same team. We have seen big developments of every player, physically, metally and skill-wise,” he insisted.

“We also have retained coach Jay Stacy. Last year, a lot of basics had to be developed, especially of the Under-21s. But this year, everyone of them have grown a lot — Indian U-21 members also won the Junior World Cup title in 2016.

“Nikkin (Thimmaiah) was injured last year. Experienced Australian Kieran Govers has also returned. So, evertthing seem to be fitting in perfectly.”

He outlined his ambitions — to make the semi-finals. “Ambition will be to make it to the semis. We need to work hard to reach our goal. We have a great team together.

“Swann missing out a loss for us. He was outstanding last year. For his replacements, we have top class players like Robbert Kemperman and Emanuel Stockbroex (to replace Swann).”

The Hamburg-born also felt that Mumbai need to make their home five back-to-back home games count in order to make a good start to the campaign. He, however, asserted that it will not be an advantage.

“It will be good to stay in Mumbai for a longer period. For the beginning it will be good to play games at home. Starting with a win would be perfect. Here, you can have the familiarity of your home venue. But we need to play well.”

(Abhishek Purohit can be contacted at abhishek.p@ians.in)

–IANS

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