Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Bhubaneswar (Odisha)[India], January 21 (ANI): Indian hockey team will take on New Zealand in the cross-over match of the ongoing FIH Hockey World Cup 2023 here at the Kalinga Stadium on Sunday.

"New Zealand have nothing to lose and the pressure is on us but I back our boys to do well," said India hockey head coach Graham Reid said in the press conference ahead of cross-over match against New Zealand.

"It is an important match for us. We need to convert our 50-50 chances. First five minutes are very important," added India hockey captain Harmanpreet Singh ahead of New Zealand clash.

Unfortunately for India they are going to be without the services of Hardik Singh. The mid-fielder is ruled out for the world cup due to hamstring injury and he is replaced by Raj Kumar Pal who was in the reserves.

"Hardik is a good player in form but his replacement Raj is also in good form. It is disappointing for Hardik," said Reid.

The Indian hockey team has scored six goals and conceded only two in three matches so far.

"We would like to concede less than number of goals. But our defense is holding well," said Graham Reid.

The Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist registered two wins and one draw in pool stage to finish second behind England which means they are now playing this cross-over to make it to the quarter-final. Unlike Pool D topper who have topped the pool due to better goal difference.

"In 2018 World Cup, the teams that came second in the group went onto play the final. We would have liked to finish on top of the pool but now this is the situation in front of us," Reid added.

Historically, India have dominated New Zealand, winning 24 of the 44 head-to-head encounters between the two sides. The Kiwis have won 15 times while five matches ended in a draw.(ANI)

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