Hockey

sultan Azlan Shah Cup champions 2015 won New Zealand
Newly crowned Sultan Azlan Shah Cup champions New Zealand
IPOH: Newly crowned Sultan Azlan Shah Cup champions New Zealand received the perfect boost in their attempt to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Kiwis, who defeated Australia 3-1 in the shootout after they were tied 2-2 in regulation time, will head for the qualifier in the World Hockey League Semi-final in Argentina from June 3-14.

They are placed in Group A with Holland, South Korea, Japan and Egypt. In Group B are Germany, Argentina, Spain, Canada and Austria. The top three teams qualify for the Olympics.

New Zealand coach Colin Batch said the win in Ipoh have given them the self-belief that they can raise their game to a higher level.

“We are happy to win it for the second time, I wasn’t part of the team that won here in 2012 but we do have six or seven players from that squad including Ryan (Archibald),” said Batch.

“We are in the midst of rebuilding and it is good to taste an early success here. It will help the players grow and believe in what they are doing. The World League is the target and we are focused on doing well there.”

Batch added the team head to Australia for a four-nation friendly in May before departing to Argentina.

“We matches against Australia, Pakistan and South Korea are our last tune-up for the World League.

The Kiwi coach is still overjoyed with the rare win over their more-fancied neighbours.

“As far as I can remember we beat them last in 2011 in an Oceania tournament. We did come out strongly in the final on Sunday as we always do in our matches against them. We played a very good first quarter but a disastrous second.

“We wanted to have the same consistency and pace for the 60 minutes. I was also very pleased with the shootout.

“It is always good to beat Australia as we do not get to do that often.” news by thestar

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