N.Z. look to repeat field hockey success in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) –
Australia are banking on their veteran players for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament while Pakistan aim to try new talent when they face defending champions New Zealand on Saturday.
The Kiwis aim to retain the trophy they won for the first time last year and enter the fray helmed by new Australian coach Colin Batch, a member of the Aussie squad who won the World Cup in 2010.
Australia, meanwhile, will field a team of veterans, mixed with a few new faces of their own, for the tournament in the Malaysian city of Ipoh, which ends on March 17.
“We have three players from our 2012 Olympic team and we are looking to achieve the high results that this group has been accustomed to over the last five years,” coach Ric Charlesworth was quoted as saying on the International Hockey Federation website.
Pakistan, meanwhile, ranked fifth in the world, have dropped four veterans including Shakeel Abbasi, Mohammed Waseem, Mohammed Rizwan Senior and Rashid Mehmood in order to test new players.
Coach Akhtar Rasool said in Ipoh that Pakistan were “in the process of looking at new players for the future”.
“This is a good opportunity to test the younger ones and we will get quality matches to try out our experiments,” he said.
New Zealand won last year’s crown with a powerful display of attacking hockey.
They are led by veteran Dean Couzins and ably supported by Andy Hayward, Stephen Jenness, Arun Panchia and Hugo Inglis.
But they too have several youngsters in the squad, who Batch will want to develop for the future.
The opening match on Saturday will see world number two Australia facing a resurgent India, now ranked 11th.
Pakistan, the 2012 Champions Trophy bronze medallists and Asian Champions Trophy winners, will play sixth-ranked New Zealand.
World number eight South Korea will round out opening day play against Malaysia, ranked 13th.