Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup: Kiwis manage to beat French
New Zealand had to draw upon its experience to overcome a gritty and fighting France in its opening pool A match in the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. Though France got a goal from its fourth penalty corner but it was little too late for them as New Zealand had already taken 2-0 lead by then.
New Zealand earned full three points from this narrow 2-1 win.
It was Kane Russell who scored the first goal of the game. In the 16th minute his good stick work and ball control saw him getting the ball into the net to what looked a difficult angle to score from.
France, playing in the elite FIH tournament, after a long time, however, did not allow this reverse to affect its spirit. Though the Kiwis are better placed and more experienced but they could not get past the fighting French players in a game that saw the ball changing ends rapidly.
In the third quarter, the French dominated the proceedings. They forced a penalty corner in the 39th minute. And when Jenness slammed a powerful grounder from the top of the striking circle to make it safe for Kiwis with their second goal, French were threatening to equalize. The Europeans wasted two penalty corners in the fourth quarter. The Kiwis, however, could not deny them a goal. The French got their first goal of the tournament just 90 seconds before the final whistle.And it came from the fourth penalty corner.
France and New Zealand have played each other thrice before this game. New Zealand won two of these games while the third ended in a draw.
Man of the match: Steven Jenness of New Zealand