JOHOR BARU: New Zealand have good reason for wanting to win the inaugural Sultan of Johor Cup tournament.
Having forked out NZ$2,000 (RM5,000) each to make the trip, the New Zealand players need no other motivation to spur them to glory.
Like their coach Grant Edwards said: “This is all the motivation the players need to do well in Johor Baru.”
Even the absence of four key players – defender Blair Tarrant and forwards Stephen Jenness, Hugo Inglis and Nick Wilson – has not dampened their spirit.
The four are training with the senior team for the Champions Trophy, which New Zealand host next month.
“We will not have our best team but it’s not a problem. We are here to win what I expect to be a very competitive tournament,” Edwards said.
“It is very important for the development of hockey to have competitions like this.
“Kudos to Malaysia for coming up with this tournament.
“We also want to do better than our 2009 team who surprised many by reaching the semi-finals of the Junior World Cup when it was held here.”
The Kiwis will have to step up their game, especially after losing 3-1 to Malaysia in a friendly on Wednesday, if they are to make an impact.
Edwards wasn’t too worried about the result, though, saying there were many “positives” he could take from the match, which was basically for them to get acclimatised.
“There were some flaws but we will iron them out before our first match against Pakistan on Saturday,” he said, adding that he expects his main men – forward Neal Shay, 21, and defender Kane Russell, 19 – to rise to the occasion.
The Kiwis play Malaysia on Sunday.