Sunday Star-Times

Black Sticks to play for third after loss to classy India


The Black Sticks men will play off for third against Japan at the Four Nations tournament in Mount Maunganui.

They lost 3-1 to India at Blake Park yesterday, a result which, combined with Belgium’s 4-1 win over Japan, leaves them out of the final.

India and Belgium will meet in the decider at 2pm today, after the Black Sticks face the Japanese, who they beat 4-1 on Thursday, at noon.

Japan finished the round robin without a win, while the other teams all had two, but India and Belgium had superior goal difference­s to the Kiwis.

Harmanpree­t Singh put India up just two minutes into yesterday’s match, and Dilpreet Singh scored

midway through the second quarter to leave them 2-0 up at the break.

Kane Russell pulled one back for the Black Sticks near the end of the third quarter, at a penalty corner, but Mandeep Singh restored the two-goal lead in the final spell.

Black Sticks midfielder Arun Panchia said it was a tough game against extremely talented opponents.

‘‘We knew it was always going to be a very tough game and India put together a good performanc­e against us. They played well and deserved their win.

‘‘It’s a really tight series here and anyone can beat anyone on their day.

‘‘We are happy with parts of our game today but know we need to be better [today].’’

After today’s playoffs, all four teams move to Hamilton, where the tournament will be repeated next week.

The twin events are a key part of the Black Sticks’ preparatio­ns for April’s Commonweal­th Games.

 ?? PHOTOSPORT ?? Kane Russell celebrates his strike yesterday.
PHOTOSPORT Kane Russell celebrates his strike yesterday.

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