The Men in Blue finished second in Pool D whereas the Black Sticks finished third in Pool C.
After finishing runners-up in Pool D to England on goal difference, India take on New Zealand in the crossovers leading up to the 2023 Hockey World Cup quarterfinals. India have blown hot and cold in the Hockey World Cup. They began their campaign with a 2-0 win over Spain before holding England to a 0-0 draw. Wales put up a spirited performance in India’s final group-stage game. But the hosts had to keep their nerve to win 4-2.
New Zealand were slotted in Pool C with the Netherlands, Malaysia, and Chile. They began with a 3-1 win over Chile, lost to Netherlands 0-4 and suffered an upset 2-3 defeat against Malaysia. The Black Sticks finished third in their group with three points and a goal difference of -3.
When the two sides last met in the 2022-24 FIH Pro League, India beat New Zealand 7-4. This stretched India’s unbeaten streak against New Zealand to 4 games, including a thrilling 3-2 victory in the Tokyo Olympics.
About the team
New Zealand are ranked 12th in the world. They have not made it to the final four of the blue riband event in 10 previous appearances, with their best finish being seventh which they achieved on four separate occasions: 1973, 1975, 1982, and 2014.
Greg Nicol has been in charge of the New Zealand men’s hockey team since 2021. The former South African player competed in the 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics. Nicol was the assistant coach for the 2008 Beijing and 2016 Rio Olympics and replaced Darren Smith. In 2012, Nicol was the assistant coach for the Black Sticks Women in a four-year stint that included the 2012 London Olympics. Nicol managed 200 caps for South Africa.
New Zealand players to watch against India
With 90 goals from 183 caps, 30-year-old Kane Russell was a part of the silver-medal-winning team in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Russell is the specialist drag-flicker and is one of the quickest players around. He scored on his debut for the national team. Russell currently plays for the German club Hamburger Polo Club and has represented Royal Antwerp, Leopold, and Rotterdam in the past.
One of the legends of New Zealand hockey, Simon Child debuted in 2005 and led his team to Bronze in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and silver in the 2013 FIH World League. The 34-year-old has scored 140 goals in 274 appearances, and incidentally was a part of the Delhi Waveriders in the 2015 Hockey India League. In a career marred with injuries, Child has fought against the odds to lead the attack. The three-time Olympian possesses a fierce reverse stick shot.
What to expect
India can expect a tough challenge from the get-go, with New Zealand making things difficult for them. Sam Lane has scored twice already and looks sharp in attack. India could miss the services of Hardik Singh in midfield.
After indications of cracking under the weight of pressure and expectations against Wales, India need to hit the reset button and reassess their strengths and weaknesses. New Zealand play a fast-paced brand of hockey and will look to seize the impetus by silencing the home crowd early.
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