Black Sticks men outclass South Koreans 3-0
Black Sticks coach Colin Batch has described the 3-0 win over South Korea as a ‘‘huge morale booster’’ as their slim title chances were kept alive at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
New Zealand, the defending champions, had lost both their opening matches - 4-3 against Pakistan and 3-2 against Malaysia - and needed a win to get back into the tournament.
First-half goals from Hugo Inglis and Cory Bennett sent them on their way, with Andy Hayward icing the cake in the second stanza.
“This is a young, developing side so it is about building game by game, and the win was a really positive step forward. The whole team stepped it up, we played a really good tight game,” said Batch, who is using the tournament as a chance to develop younger players.
At the start of the tournament, there were nine players with less than 10 caps, and all except three players in the 18-man squad were 23 or younger.
The Kiwis were deadlier in their finishing last night and played a tight game to walk away with all three points.
They took only four minutes to open their account as a lurking Inglis was at hand at the far post to deflect a shot by Stephen Jenness.
New Zealand doubled their advantage off their first penalty corner in the 12th minute through Bennett, whose low drag-flick sailed through a sea of legs and past an unsighted Korean keeper Kim Jae Hyeon.
Though Korea tried, they could not get a single shot on target throughout the first half and the Kiwis trooped off with a two-goal advantage.
Seven minutes into the second half New Zealand scored their third through Hayward, who converted a penalty corner.
Though Korea forced two penalty corners late in the match, they failed to trouble the Kiwis and the result was never in doubt.
“At times we were a little bit sloppy late in the game, so we will look at that, we are always looking for improvements, but overall it is a huge morale booster to beat a quality opposition like Korea,’’ Batch said.
The Black Sticks meet India, who defeated Pakistan 3-1 last night, in their next match tomorrow, before facing Australia in their final group match on Saturday, both starting at 11.05pm NZT.
They will probably need to win both matches to have any chance of featuring in the final and defending their title.
Australia and Malaysia top the table with seven points, after the hosts held the crack Aussies to a 1-1 draw last night, while New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Korea all have three points from one-win, two-loss records.
New Zealand 3 (Hugo Inglis, Cory Bennett, Andy Hayward) South Korea 0. HT: 2-0.