The Pools for the men’s and women’s World Cup Qualifiers have been announced, with particpating teams to get a final chance to snatch one of the five remaining places at each of this year’s showpiece events.

Seven of the 12 qualifiers for the year's marquee events have already benn decided, with the tournaments in Changzhou, China, and Rome, Italy, to fill in the remaining pieces of the World Cup puzzle.

Both tournaments will feature 12 teams, with the top five teams from each event earning the right to participate in their respective World Cups later this year.

BDO Hockey World Cup Qualifier
Men, Changzhou (CHN), 12-23 April 2006

Courtesy of their number five world ranking, Pakistan are the top seeds for the men’s World Cup Qualifier and have been drawn to play against England, Belgium, Egypt, Canada and Ireland in Pool A.

The top five teams in Changzhou will qualify for the BDO Hockey World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany, from 6-17 September this year.

On past performances and records, Pakistan should have a clear advantage over their pool rivals, with regular participation at world level events and victory in an eight-nation tournament in 2005 giving them the pedigree that should ensure their qualification for Monchengladbach.

Pool B contains a strong line-up of teams including Korea, New Zealand and Malaysia, along with Japan, France and China.

The pool appears to be one that could produce more than its share of surprises, with emerging nations France and Japan combining with the favoured nations to produce a highly competitive grouping of teams.

The home team could also catch their opponents unaware in what will be the first men’s major international event to be held China.

Pool A
Pakistan, England, Belgium, Egypt, Canada, Ireland

Pool B
Korea, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, France, China

Samsung Hockey World Cup Qualifier
Women, Rome (ITA), 25 April-6 May 2006

China is the top seed in the women’s World Cup Qualifier and along with New Zealand and Korea, look to have a slight edge over the other competing teams.

As with the men’s qualifier, the top five teams will earn a spot at the women's Samsung Hockey World Cup to be played in Madrid from 27 September – 8 October this year.

China have been drawn with Japan, England, Ukraine, Scotland and France in Pool A. Based on world rankings, Japan and England appear to be the likely challengers to the world number five.

In Pool B, top seeds New Zealand will be challenged by Korea, USA, Ireland, Azerbaijan and Italy. The Black Sticks’ greatest threat should come from Korea, who they have replaced in the field for the Rabo Hockey Champions Trophy in Amstelveen, Netherlands, this year.

Despite being the 11th seeded team in the 12-nation tournament, home team Italy will enter the event with confidence after recording successive victories over New Zealand in their last two matches.

Pool A
China, Japan, England, Ukraine, Scotland, France

Pool B
New Zealand, Korea, Italy, USA, Ireland, Azerbaijan, Italy

The match schedule for both tournaments will be released before the end of January.