Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Hockey World Cup: ‘Crazy’ New Zealand victory denies hosts India

Bhubaneswar — No one will ever forget Germany’s three late goals in Rio to deny New Zealand an Olympic semi-final. The same now applies to the Black Sticks’ incredible come-from-behind victory here, which took them to a 5-4 shoot-out win over hosts India and land a barely believable World Cup quarter-final place.

Where to start? India had been rampant, buoyed on again by a partisan 15,000 at the Kalinga Stadium, as they strolled to a 2-0 lead and further riches looming. Yet, New Zealand, relishing the underdog tag, came from 3-1 down to level at 3-3 and played a decisive circle game, one with measured passing and presses and no hopeful slaps. A world away from their Dutch loss and insipid Malaysia display, this was some performance.

For India it is an unwanted return to Rourkela for the classification matches. They will likely get full houses, but coach Graham Reid will do well to rally his troops back from this defeat, one that unravelled from their own mistakes, as the Kiwis – a ‘volunteer’ squad, according to the exceptional Simon Child – delivered a seismic blow for the host nation and move into the final week of this World Cup.

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