2019 World Cup Focus - The Kiwi Team
One of the non-seeded teams looking to make a big impact at the 2019 World Cup of Darts is New Zealand. Only twice in the history of the tournament have New Zealand managed to progress beyond the first round. However, they will feel they have a chance of at least matching their best performance at the World Cup of Darts by defeating Lithuania in the first round.
With Northern Ireland a possible opponent in the second round and Wales in the quarter-final, New Zealand will believe they have a chance of making history this year. Cody Harris and Haupai Puha will represent New Zealand in Germany and both players will be hoping they can at least make the round of 16.
Neither Harris nor Puha are in the top 100 players of the PDC Order of Merit but that could work to their advantage. The players will not be well known to the other participants in the tournament and that makes New Zealand a dangerous opponent for anyone.
Harris has played in the last two PDC World Darts Championships and fell at the second round stage in the 2019 event. He played very well and defeated Martin Schindler in the first round before losing narrowly 3-2 to Jamie Lewis in the second round.
Harris won on the PDC Challenge Tour England and has played in the UK Open, so he is no stranger to the big stage. He also has experience of playing in the World Cup of Darts, having done so three times and that could prove invaluable in the first round.
Harris’ partner, Puha, has never played in the World Cup of Darts and this tournament will be the first major PDC event of his career. It is a big moment but Puha did qualify for two2018 World Series of Darts events in Australia and New Zealand. He lost in the first round of both but enjoyed playing Rob Cross in Melbourne.
Puha averaged 91.86 in the match against Cross and that was superior to several other players in the tournament. The 34 year old travels to Germany on the back of a DPA Australian Pro Tour New South Wales 18 victory in May and it was the second time he has won that tournament in his career.
It was a nice boost ahead of the 2019 World Cup of Darts and Puha won the match 6-4. Known as ‘Hopes’, Puha will certainly be full of hope ahead of the first round match against Lithuania. The New Zealand team have nothing to fear and it would be great to see them safely into the second round.
In a pure knockout tournament, there is the potential for upsets and New Zealand could be the team to produce one at the World Cup of Darts this year.
- New Zealand v Lithuania Thursday 7th June.