Fields narrowing en route to World Cups
While the Utrecht organisers are busy making preparations, selling tickets and promoting the biggest event on the hockey calendar, teams from around the world are busy trying to earn their place in the 1998 World Cups. Following is a summary of the pre-World Cup tournaments.

Women's World Cup Qualifier - Harare pools decided

Last year's women's World Cup Preliminary in Trinidad finalised the field for the World Cup Qualifier scheduled for 1-12 August 1997 in Harare, Zimbabwe. And it was during the November 1996 meeting of the FIH Competitions Committee, held in Brussels, that the pools for the tournament were finalised.

The Harare tournament is the last qualifying competition for the 1998 Women's World Cup taking place 20-31 May in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The top six teams from Zimbabwe will go on to join the teams already qualified for the World Cup: Australia, Argentina, the United States, Germany, Korea and the Netherlands. The six automatic qualifiers were the top six finishers from the last women's World Cup, held in 1994 in Dublin, Ireland.

Women's World Cup Qualifier

1-12 August 1997,
Harare, Zimbabwe

Pool A Pool B
Canada China
England New Zealand
India Russia
Ireland Scotland
Japan Spain
South Africa Zimbabwe

Women's World Cup Preliminary - Five teams advance from Trinidad

Five teams competing in the Women's World Cup Qualifier earned their way into the tournament by virtue of their finish in the Women's World Cup Preliminary, held 16-27 October 1996 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

New Zealand defeated Japan 2-1 on the final day of play to capture the title in the tournament championship game, but it was qualification that mattered more than anything else. Both teams had already qualified, as had the Indian squad, which defeated Scotland 1-0 to take third place.

But the nail biting was left to South Africa and Italy who played off for the fifth and final qualification spot on the tournament's penultimate day. It was South Africa, with a 1-0 win over Italy, that confirmed its place in Zimbabwe. Like their counterparts in the men's World Cup Preliminary, the Italians finished sixth, just out of reach of qualification.

New Zealand, Japan, India, Scotland and South Africa join the seven teams already qualified for the World Cup Qualifier: Canada, China, England, Ireland, Russia, Spain and hosts Zimbabwe.

Women's World Cup Preliminary Port of Spain, Trinidad

Final Standings *1. New Zealand
*2. Japan
*3. India
*4. Scotland
*5. South Africa
6. Italy
7. Belgium
8. France
9. Czech Republic
10. Cuba
11. Jamaica
12. Trinidad & Tobago

*Qualifies for the Women's World Cup Qualifier, 1-12 August in Harare, Zimbabwe.