# New Zealand fly into Johor Bahru with high hopes
By Rizal Abdullah
New Zealand hope to hit the podium in their third attempt in the Sultan of Johor Cup after three failed attempts in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
The Kiwis flew into Johor Bahru via Singapore on Thursday – with high hopes of improving on their previous best – which was fourth place finish in 2014 after finishing at the bottom of the six-nation in the inaugural tournament in 2011.
The following year New Zealand finished one spot better – a fifth place, ahead of Malaysia who ended up last. .
New Zealand are among the five teams who will be using this year’s sixth edition to be held at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Bahru from Oct 30-Nov 6 as their final lap of preparations for this year’s Junior World cup Finals in India from Dec 8-18.
Only Malaysia will not feature in the Junior World Cup Finals in India. The other five teams – Australia, England, Japan and Pakistan will compete in the once in four years world meet.
New Zealand have come with only part of their squad for Sultan of Johor Cup but it does not mean the Kiwis will be easy meet. The Black Sticks, as New Zealand are known, the presence of 12 players from the Junior World Cup squad, will make them a tough nut in Johor Bahru.
Coach Bryce Collins believes the presence of forwards Sam La mine, Jonty Keaney dan Thomas Dylan, midfielders Alex Hanham, Aiden Sarikaya, defenders Breadly Read, Hugh Hendrickson dan Johny Thorn, in addition to goalkeeper Dominic Dizon, makes New Zealand among the contenders at least a podium finish this time.
New Zealand open their campaign against Pakistan on Monday on October 31 followed with matches against Japan and Pakistan before a one day break. Collins’ men play England on November 4 before a showdown with Malaysia the next day.
The final and other classification matches will take place on Nov 6.