A staggering performance from U.P. Yoddha’s defence was the catalyst of their 34-29 victory over U Mumba at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi on Sunday that ensured their qualification to Eliminator 3.

U Mumba coach Gholamreza Mazandarani explained in the post-match press conference, that the start to the game on Sunday went U.P. Yoddha’s way and ensured that the opposition held the upper hand throughout the course of the match.

“We made a few mistakes at the start in defence,” Mazandarani observed. “After that, the raiders were under pressure to score points and we couldn’t execute our gameplan as well as U.P. Yoddha did.

“They have gotten better over the course of the season in defence as well as offence,” he continued, lauding U.P. Yoddha for their turnaround. “Today they played better than us right from the start.”

Ahead of their Eliminator 1 contest, U.P. Yoddha had been on a six-match unbeaten run, with both their raiding and defence departments clicking as the Playoffs approached.

“We generally go with a combination of four defenders and three raiders while sometimes we started with five defenders and two raiders,” Mazandarani pointed out. “In hindsight, we maybe should have gone with five defenders in this match, given how potent their defence was.”

Nevertheless, as his first season as coach in VIVO Pro Kabaddi – and the first overseas national to hold the position – the Iranian summed his experience as a positive one.

“I have never coached in a tournament this long and it was very new for me,” he said. “I had some communication issues at the start, but they were ironed out and today was my first Playoffs experience as well and I feel next season I’ll be better prepared.”

While his team fell short, it was still an excellent campaign for U Mumba as they finished second in the Zone A standings and set the record for the highest score difference.

“I would like to continue with this team and device a new plan for Season 7 and try to go further than this season,” Mazandarani concluded.