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Black Sticks win World Cup opener, but know improvement needed

The Black Sticks men know there is room for improvement after opening their World Cup campaign with a 3-0 win over Chile.

Black Sticks striker Sam Hiha.
Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

Healthy favourites against the 23rd-ranked side from South America, New Zealand scored three first half goals to be in a comfortable position at the main break in their first match at the tournament in India.

But the world No 8 Black Sticks were unable to add to their tally in the third and fourth quarters, with Chile even managing to bag a consolation goal of their own in the final stanza.

New Zealand striker Sam Hiha, who started his tournament with two goals, reflected on the team’s mixed performance.

“In that first half we came out with a hiss and a roar. we really took the game to the Chileans and imposed our will,” he said.

“But the second half they came back strongly, and there’s plenty of room for improvement in how we reacted and how we can put the game away.

“We can really improve our circle work and putting away our half chances … that second half we got a bit sloppy.”

Hiha’s strike partner Sam Lane scored the other goal for New Zealand, who faced a stiff challenge in their second pool match against The Netherlands on Wednesday.

Black Sticks head coach Greg Nicol said they would need to thoroughly review the tape from their opening game.

“It’s a totally different opposition coming up. We know how good Holland are.

“We’ve got to be really innovative and accurate with the implementation of our tactics.”

The Netherlands started their campaign with a 4-0 win against Malaysia.


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