On Tuesday, the first qualifier of Season 5 took place at the Dome@NSCI SVP Stadium in Mumbai between top zonal teams – Gujarat Fortunegiants and Bengal Warriors. It was expected to be a tight encounter with a solid defensive unit meeting a potent attacking force but it ended up being a one-sided affair. Gujarat Fortunegiants stamped their authority against a confused Bengal Warriors side to win 42-17 and make their way directly to the season finale.
Gujarat coach Manpreet Singh was a delighted man at the post-match press conference. “We played carefully and now our focus is to win the trophy. The way our team is playing is great and if we play even half of it, we will win any match,” Manpreet said with plenty of confidence.
The last time both the zone toppers met in Ahmedabad, the match ended in a draw as the Gujarat defence had failed to fire. But Tuesday’s result was totally contrary which according to Manpreet was because they had plenty of time on their hands to plan a foolproof strategy. “When we played them in our home leg, we were playing continuous matches, where five out of six we had won. Our last match was against Bengal which ended tied because we didn’t get time to plan against them. But now, we had a lot of time to plan and we focused on every player and their game,” he said.
Captain Fazel Atrachali was also all smiles and stressed the fact that a solid team performance was mandatory to register victories. “If you play like a team, all the matches are easy. You must believe in your team and follow the plans which are made. If you play like a team you will win no matter who the opposition is,” he said.
Gujarat will now face the winners of Qualifier 2 at Chennai on Saturday in the battle for the trophy.