New Zealand have paid a heavy price for their profligacy in front of goal at the women's hockey World Cup.

The upshot is that they didn't even make the quarter-finals in London. From a world ranking of No 4, and as Commonwealth Games champions, that is a desperately poor return.

A 2-1 loss to 12th-ranked Japan in their second pool game ultimately proved crucial, while they had chances to beat old rivals Australia in their final match in the group, which was drawn 1-1.

They had one piece of misfortune in the elimination game against third-ranked Argentina yesterday, a fluke event seasoned coach Mark Hager reckoned he'd never seen before in a lifetime of hockey.


They had been right in the game, an end-to-end entertaining contest until the 24th minute.

Goalkeeper Grace O'Hanlon made a fine save from a penalty corner, but her glove fell off and landed on the ball. Her second glove flew in front of an Argentina player about to shoot. Cue a penalty stroke and from that point on New Zealand were clearly second best in the 2-0 loss.

The Black Sticks had chances in the first half but didn't take them. Their game steadily subsided and they offered no real threat in front of goal in the second half.

''We weren't getting into circle to create a goal, or shot of any quality. That's the disappointing thing,'' Hager said.

It was a miserable way to go out, especially having arrived with hopes of making an impact after the Games victory on the Gold Coast.

''We weren't clinical enough and for whatever reason didn't get up in the second half,'' Hager said.

There will be some hefty soul-searching among the players about the campaign but also their future with the Tokyo Olympics two years ago, but no rushed decisions.

Hager rightly maintained making important decisions in emotional times is the wrong approach.


Later this year New Zealand will take part in a four nations tournament in Australia. Expect some younger faces then and in an anticipated subsequent visit from 15th-ranked Chile.

A drop in ranking is expected. New Zealand haven't suddenly become a poor team, indeed defensively they were solid, notably central figure Brooke Neal and experienced Sam Charlton and Ella Gunson.

But goals is the name of the game. If you don't score them you go home.

New Zealand managed six in their four games, three from striker Olivia Merry, who was barely sighted yesterday.

When they needed their senior figures to stand up, it didn't happen and Argentina, who had been below par themselves during the pool play, found their feet. They had more energy and the gulf in skill showed up after halftime.

Just when the players might have felt like heading for Heathrow, they are stuck in London several more days due to booking arrangements.

Plenty of time to ponder their futures you would imagine.