Hockey action between New Zealand (in black) and Ireland in the Champions Challenge I in Kuantan on Saturday. Kiwis won 2-1. - BERNAMA
KUANTAN: Favourites New Zealand got their Group A campaign in the Champions Challenge I hockey tournament off to a winning start – edging Ireland 2-1 – at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) had agreed for the first two Group A matches to be played in four quarters. The match time remains at 70 minutes as each quarter is played over 17.5 minutes.
Only matches at 3pm and 5pm are affected for now while the other matches at night will remain as two halves.
FIH are in the midst of introducing four quarters for international matches from September. The Asian Games from Sept 19 to Oct 4 in Incheon, South Korea, will be the first hockey tournament to use the new format.
The format for the early matches were changed due to the severe humidity in Kuantan. The FIH are monitoring the temperature and may even play the night matches in four quarters if necessary.
The Kiwis opened their scoring with a field goal by Steve Edwards in the 11th minute but Alan Sothern equalised for Ireland five minutes later – running into the D to turn a cross in.
The Black Sticks made sure of victory when Hugo Inglis deflected a long cross into the D by Markus Child into goal in the 42nd minute.
In the other Group A match, Japan came back from 1-0 down to edge Poland 3-2.
Poland took the lead in the seventh minute through a Michal Raciniewski Michal field goal.
But Japan restored parity a minute late when Koji Kayukawa netted from close range.
Poland then made it 2-1 in the 29th minute through an Adrian Krokosz field goal.
Japan, however, upped the tempo in the second-half and began to take control of the match with their speed.
And it was through one such quick move that Japan found the equaliser in the 50th minute through man-of-the-match Ippei Fujimoto.
Hiroki Sakamoto then netted the winning goal in the 61st minute off a penalty corner drag flick.