Wednesday, December 6, 2023

New Zealand win Sultan Azlan Shah Cup – Blacksticks Olympic squad to be named June 12


[img_assist|nid=3912|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=180|height=108]New Zealand have won the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Malaysia for the first time in the competition’s 21-year history.

The Blacksticks met Argentina in the final and it was an Andy Hayward drag flick in the 18th minute from the Kiwis only penalty corner of the game, which secured the 1-0 win.

“It was a grind rather than a true showcase of hockey tonight – it was very hot conditions and seven games of hockey over 10 days was taking its toll on players. The ball was turned over more than we would have liked,” says McLeod.

Argentina created more opportunities than New Zealand, with their counter attack being extremely difficult to defend especially in the later parts of the game. 

“Our defence has been outstanding throughout this tournament and despite Argentina’s continual pressure, we held strong and were fortunate to have scored from our only penalty corner,” says McLeod.

 The win was made sweeter by Kyle Pontifex being named player of the match as well as goalkeeper of the tournament. Furthermore, Pontifex, captain Dean Couzins and Ryan Archibald were all named in the tournament team. It was also Stephen Jenness  50th international test match.

In the bronze medal match, India came from a goal down to defeat Great Britain 3-1. While in the fifth/sixth play-off,  South Korea beat Malaysia 3-2.

New Zealand now return, with the men’s team for the London Olympics being announced on Tuesday 12 June.

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