The New Zealand men's hockey team have finished fourth at the Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament after losing to Korea 2-1 in the bronze medal match last night in Ipoh, Malaysia.
The Kiwis were competitive with equal possession and opportunities throughout the game, but in the end the only goal came from Stephen Jenness in the second half.
The Black Sticks had their fair share of possession and constructed strong attacks throughout the game. In the 23rd minute, Andy Hayward took a superb drag flick, but it was spectacularly saved high to the goalkeepers right. Unfortunately, similar chances in both halves were either saved or just missed their mark.
Korea took the lead in the 33rd minute through a penalty corner converted by Hyun Hye Sung. The Black Sticks got the equaliser in the 41st minute through Jenness but Korea regained the lead in the 58th minute when Nam Hyun Woo converted a penalty corner and took the score to 2-1.
New Zealand were awarded two late penalty corners, but both were successfully defended. With four minutes to play, the Black Sticks replaced the goal keeper with an additional field player but even desperate measures could not produce an equaliser to send the game into extra time, and the Koreans took the bronze.
"We weren't at our best, the team are disappointed not to have come away with a win. However, a lot of positives can be taken from this tournament, this was a young developing group and we have seen significant improvement in defence right across the field which is really pleasing," said head coach Colin Batch.
"An area that has been a real strength over the week has been our penalty corner attack, but last night a combination of our execution not being quite as accurate and Korean defence picking which shot was going to be delivered, meant we struggled to convert."
Captain Dean Couzins, who has lead the team well throughout the week, was solid in defence and Arun Panchia and Stephen Jenness were other stand outs.
In a dramatic gold medal match, Australia scored four seconds before full-time winning 3-2 and denying Malaysia (ranked 13th), in front of a home crowd of 15,000, the chance to win the trophy that Malaysia last had in their cabinet 22 years ago.