CHANDIGARH, JAN 28 : The Black Sticks arrived here today to a rousing reception at Taj Hotel with their 28-year-old skipper Philip Burrows determined to make the most of the Four-Nation Punjab Gold Cup Invitational Hockey Tournament being organized by the Punjab Government at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here from January 31 to February 9.
"We defeated India by 4-3 in the last match at the Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) last year and we are confident we can repeat the same", Philip said although he admitted that six of their top players had been replaced by new faces.
With 205 caps New Zealand captain Philip Burrows said "we are looking forward to this tournament as it would be the right platform to focus on the 2010 World Cup India will be hosting. "And with Olympic champions Germany and world’s third ranked Holland among the competitors it would be just the right atmosphere to give exposure to the young guys who were looking forward to the tournament.
He was happy to be in India, his first trip. He said India were playing really well and they were looking forward to challenge.
Pint-sized twenty four-year-old Priyesh Bhana, the only player of Indian origin, was happy to be in India. Hailing from Machaad in Gujarat it was the striker’s first visit to the country of his origin. He will be making his international debut by participating in the four-national tournament. For him the visit is also to know the Indian culture.
The Punjab Sports Director’s office was abuzz with a lot of activity as the date for the tournament approached. Former Olympic captain Pargat Singh was busy answering phone calls from Germany and Holland about the arrival schedule of the two teams.
Germany and Holland will be reaching Chandigarh by tomorrow evening. The organisers had a trial run of the floodlights as the Indian players had a feel of the floodlights at an evening workout on the Sector 42 Astroturf Stadium.
The tournament is the first mega event to be hosted by a state government.The team: Nick Haig, Andrew Hayward, Simon Child, Dean Couzins, Casey Henwood, Priyesh Bhana, Blair Hilton, Joel Baker, Stephen Graham Midlands, Kyle Pontifex, Phillip Burrows (captain), James Nation, Lloyd Stephenson, Shay Neal, Richard Petherick, Steve Edwards, Nick Wilson.
Team Management: Coach: Shane McLeod. Assistant Coach: Darren Smith. Manager: Tony Edwards. Physiotherapist: Peter Lee. Umpire: David Tomlinson.