Wednesday, 30 April 2014 | MYT 5:45 PM

Heat no issue for Kiwis at Champions Challenge

KUANTAN: New Zealand believe that the weather is the least of their worries when they play Malaysia in the first quarter-finals of the Champions Challenge I on Thursday.

Kiwi coach Colin Batch said they had played at 3pm before and it had no real effect on their performance.

“So, I don’t expect it to be any different tomorrow. We’ll be playing in the heat (3pm match) for the third time and, judging by our previous outings, we’re not too concerned about it,” he said.

“But Malaysia are on an upward trend ... they beat Canada 4-3 in their last group match and I believe it will be a tough fight tomorrow.

“Malaysia are also competing in the World Cup (at The Hague, Holland from May 31-June 15). So, I expect an interesting tussle.”

New Zealand began the Champions Challenge I tournament with a 2-1 win over Ireland before steam rolling past Japan 5-1 and Poland 8-3.

The Kiwis have scored 16 goals – 11 field attempts and five from set pieces – and, in Simon Child, they have the tournament’s leading scorer with four goals.

Even New Zealand skipper Dean Couzins believes that Malaysia will be a handful in the quarter-finals.

“I watched Malaysia play against Canada for 25 minutes and I must say that they have improved compared to their first two matches against France and South Korea.

“I expect our match against Malaysia to be a fast one. I hope my team-mates will press early and get the goals,” said Couzins.

Couzins was also impressed with the crowd during Malaysia’s matches.

“I loved the way the crowd cheered every time Malaysia attacked. We like playing in such an atmosphere and I think it might work in our favour,” he said.

Tags / Keywords: hockey , Champions Challenge , Dean Couzins , Simon Child , Colin Batch


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