Two Black Sticks gamers are set to sq. off with a few clubmates in a vital males’s hockey World Cup recreation in opposition to the Netherlands in India.
The 16-team FIH World Cup event begins on Friday with the Black Sticks – ranked ninth on the earth – up in opposition to the Netherlands (third), event rookies Chile (twenty second) and Malaysia (eleventh) in Pool C.
New Zealand – whose finest World Cup effort is 4 seventh-place finishes since 1973 – bully off in opposition to the Chileans in Bhubaneswar within the Odisha area on Saturday evening.
They then face the Netherlands – three-time World Cup winners and silver medalists in 2018 – on Monday in a match that ought to determine the pool winner.
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* Black Sticks males recall former captain Simon Little one for matches with India and Spain
That encounter may quantity to a gathering for Black Sticks ahead Sam Lane and midfielder Sean Findlay with their Oranje-Rood Dutch premier league teammates, goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak and midfielder Tijmen Reijenga.
The winners of the 4 swimming pools will mechanically advance to the quarterfinals. The second and third positioned sides compete in a crossover spherical to determine the final 4 quarterfinalists.
The Black Sticks ought to beat Chile, the four-time South American Video games silver medalists who’ve certified for his or her first World Cup.
Hockey gamers sunk as a late South Africa winner denies them a semifinal spot on the 2022 Commonwealth Video games.
Coach Greg Nicol’s Kiwi facet may even be favored in opposition to Malaysia, having overwhelmed them 3-1 of their final encounter in Tokyo in 2019 after profitable sequence in New Zealand in 2016 and Malaysia in 2016.
The Black Sticks ought to, a minimum of, make the crossover spherical as they try to enhance on their ninth place end on the final World Cup, additionally in Bhubaneswar, in 2018 – and their disappointing fifth on the 2022 Commonwealth Video games in Birmingham.
Nicol, a former South Africa striker, has a stable core of skilled gamers in his squad, led by veteran ahead Simon Little one (288 caps), defenders Blair Tarrant (233) and Kane Russell (183), captain Nic Woods (146), recalled midfielder Nick Ross (138) and ahead Jake Smith (108).
Woods, Tarrant, Russell and Black Sticks midfielder Adrian Sarikaya play collectively in Germany’s Feldhockey Bundesliga for Hamburger Polo Membership.
Little one, 34, returns to worldwide hockey’s big-time after lacking the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Video games and final yr’s Commonwealth Video games because of enterprise and household commitments.
The Aucklander – who has 144 targets (at a median of 1 each two video games) made his Black Sticks debut in 2005 in opposition to Malaysia and nonetheless looms as one of many present workforce’s probably scoring threats.
Ross, who led Otago to their first nationwide males’s title in 2022, didn’t play worldwide hockey final yr.
The 32-year-old midfielder is predicted to shore up the Black Ferns protection which was examined in some difficult FIH Professional League video games late final yr.
“Having not performed for the reason that Tokyo Olympics, I am actually trying ahead to becoming a member of the workforce once more and hope to carry some worth to the group,” Ross mentioned on the time of his choice in December.
Lane (30 targets in 89 appearances) and Russell (90 targets in 183 outings) are lethal dragflick exponents who will enhance the Black Sticks’ set piece firepower.
The Black Sticks have a mix of youth and expertise with 19-year-old defender Charlie Morrison, a Junior Black Sticks graduate, poised for his debut.
Nicol will likely be at his first World Cup as Black Sticks head coach. He stepped up in December 2021 after serving as an assistant-coach on the 2008 Beijing and 2016 Rio Olympics.
He acknowledged whereas naming his squad that “the defensive finish is clearly one thing we have been engaged on and so to have the expertise of Nick [Ross] out there for choice, in addition to a younger expertise in Charlie [Morrison]is actually thrilling”.
Pool A is headed by world primary and Commonwealth Video games champions Australia – coached by ex-Black Sticks mentor Colin Batch and captained by 402-cap Tasmanian defender Eddie Ockenden – up in opposition to seventh-ranked Argentina.
Defending champions Belgium, who beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout within the 2018 ultimate, will likely be favored in Pool B however will not have issues their very own approach in opposition to fourth-ranked Germany.
Fifth-ranked England and India (sixth) combat it out in Pool D.
AT A GLANCE
15TH FIH MEN’S HOCKEY WORLD CUP
When: January 13 to 29.
The place: Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, India.
To: Australia, Argentina, France, South Africa.
B: Belgium, Germany, South Korea, Japan.
C: Netherlands, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile.
D: India, England, Spain, Wales.
Squad: Dom Dixon, Leon Hayward, Blair Tarrant, Dane Lett, Nic Woods (c), Charlie Morrison*, Nick Ross, Simon Yorston, Kane Russell, Aidan Sarikaya, Hayden Phillips, Sean Findlay, Joe Morrison, Kim Kingstone, Sam Lane, Jake Smith, Sam Hiha, Simon Little one. Touring reserves: Connor Greentree, David Brydon. (* denotes debutant).
v Chile, Saturday Jan 14, 10.30pm (NZ time).
v Netherlands, Monday Jan 16, 10.30pm (NZ time).
v Malaysia, Thursday Jan 19, 8.30pm (NZ time).
Crossover playoffs begin on January 22.
Finish on January 29.
Reside protection on Spark Sport.
Most World Cup titles
3-Australia, Netherlands, Germany.
New Zealand’s earlier placements
1973: seventh. 1975: seventh. 1982: seventh. 1986: ninth. 1998: tenth. 2002: ninth. 2006: eighth. 2010: ninth. 2014: seventh. 2018th: ninth.
Do you know?
New Zealand completed seventh on the 1975 World Cup, however received the Olympic Video games gold medal in 1976 at Montreal.