On July 24, India and New Zealand will face each other after almost two years at the Oi Hockey Stadium in the Tokyo Olympics.
An India versus New Zealand match in men’s hockey has traditionally never been viewed as a high-profile encounter. Yes, there may have been some really tight matches in the recent past, but the games didn’t attract much attention from fans and experts.
The last time India met New Zealand was in 2019 at the Olympic Test event in Tokyo over two matches. While India lost their first game 1-2, the Men in Blue came roaring back with a thumping 5-0 win in the next match.
At the Tokyo Olympics, India and New Zealand will have the company of Argentina, Australia, Spain, and hosts Japan in Pool A.
Sportskeeda takes an in-depth look at the New Zealand team in the Know Your Opponents series.
New Zealand have never posed a threat to their opponents on the world stage. In their 12 Olympic appearances so far, the Black Sticks have won gold only once — in 1976.
Incidentally, that is also their only top-four Olympic finish in the history of the Games. In the continental arena, New Zealand have never won a gold, finishing second in all the 11 editions.
However, the Tokyo Olympics can be the perfect opportunity for the World No. 8 side to present themselves in a new avatar on the grandest stage. With experienced players like Shea McAleese, captain Blair Tarrant and Steven Edwards in their ranks, fans back home can expect a good showing.
How New Zealand qualified for the Tokyo Olympics
New Zealand could have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics from the 2019 Oceania Cup, had they won at least two games against Australia. Although they drew one, the Tarrant-led side lost the other two, which pitted them against South Korea in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers.
They didn’t disappoint this time. New Zealand survived a scare in the first game, winning 3-2, thanks to Simon Child’s goal in the end. The Black Sticks stamped their authority in the final game with a commanding 3-0 win to book their 13th Olympic ticket.
In the ongoing FIH Pro League, New Zealand are currently seventh in the nine-team table, with just two wins from eight matches. While they have scored 15 goals, New Zealand have conceded 25. Their only wins in the FIH Pro League have so far come against Spain (3-2) and Argentina (5-3).