New Zealand wins Mens World Cup Preliminary
as five teams move on to Malaysia
Five teams are now one step closer to the 1998 World Cup in Utrecht, the Netherlands. ?? New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Poland and Switzerland topped the list of finishers at the mens World Cup Preliminary held in Cagliari, Italy, with New Zealand claiming the additional honour of tournament champions. They downed Canada in the final with a victory on a 3-1 penalty shoot-out, after playing to a scoreless tie in regulation and extra time.

The five have earned their place at the March 1997 World Cup Qualfier in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where they will join the hosts and the automatically qualfied teams Argentina, Korea, Spain, South Africa, Belgium and Belarus. The top six teams from the World Cup Qualifier will go on to the World Cup.

The final days play was for pride and the record books as all five qualifying teams had already been determined. In the third-fourth playoff, Poland defeated Ireland 5-4 to claim third place, China beat the USA, 4-1, in the 9th-10th place playoff and Scotland was victorious, 3-2, over Egypt in the 11th-12th place final.

At the end of pool play, Canada and New Zealand in Pool A each had 14 points from a record of four wins and two losses, but Canada finished first on goal difference (+9 to New Zealands +5). Ireland had gone through Pool B undeafeated, earning the maximum 18 points and racking up a +16 goal diffference. Poland finished second in Pool B with 13 points from a 4-1-1 record.

In the cross-over matches, Canada defeated Poland, 6-5, and New Zealand downed Ireland, 3-1, to take their places in the final and leave Poland and Ireland to fight for third and fourth places. In the battle for the final qualification spot, Italy defeated Wales, 2-1 and Switzerland downed Kenya, 3-1 to set up the fifth-sixth playoff, eventually won by Switzerland, 4-2.

The final finishing order is:

1. New Zealand 8. Kenya
2. Canada 9. China
3. Poland 10. USA
4. Ireland 11. Scotland
5. Switzerland 12. Egypt
6. Italy 13. Kazakstan
7. Wales 14. Bangladesh