New Zealand, targeting a top-six finish in the Hockey World League (HWL) final, is trying to get acclimatised to the weather here ahead of its opening encounter against Olympic champion Germany at the National Stadium on January 10.
The Black Sticks, ranked seventh in the world, qualified for the event after ending up fourth in the HWL semifinal leg in Rotterdam and hope for a good return in Delhi.
“While the team is practising hard, the players are trying to acclimatise to the weather. It is cold at night and warm during the day. Hence, playing in such conditions can be tricky,” said New Zealand head coach Colin Batch after the team’s training session on Saturday.
“The team is trying a new composition with some new players and we aim for a top-six finish. The boys have worked on their passes and techniques of tackling the opposition which will help win matches,” said Batch, a former Australian player. New Zealand captain Dean Couzins said, “We are working very hard on our techniques and looking forward to the matches against Germany, India and England.” The Black Sticks will play India (Jan. 11) and England (Jan. 13) in their other Pool A matches.
The Netherlands coach Paul Vanass said his team, ranked third in the world and placed in Pool B, would focus on its speed. “The preparation in the run-up to the tournament is going great. The team will be playing against Argentina, Australia and Belgium and we are aware that the latter two are very strong sides. Our team has played against them in the past and we have to keep ourselves fit. We are working on our speed, which we will utilise.”
“The team composition is not different from that of the Olympics, though there are a couple of injuries which have to be taken care of,” he added.