New Zealand have two objectives when the women's World League semifinal starts in Brussels early tomorrow.

The world No 5 Black Sticks, who kick off the 10-team event against Spain, want to put behind them past slipups at the business end of tournaments and also ensure they get qualification for next year's World Cup in London.

The second part of the equation should not be an issue.

The cup has been bumped up to 16 teams, the top five in Brussels qualify and New Zealand are the third-best ranked team at the tournament, behind world No 1 the Netherlands and No 4 Australia.


The leadup hasn't been ideal.

They had a four-match series against Spain in Barcelona, drawing two and losing two. That served a useful purpose, according to senior player Sam Charlton.

''It was really good for us adjusting to the European summer and the heat," she said.

''We had four really tough games and results wise it didn't really go the way we would have wanted to, but it's all good preparation, getting used to playing European teams and making we sure we know them inside out before playing them (tomorrow)."

Charlton, whose 188 caps put her among the most experienced players in a group shorn of half a dozen seasoned international campaigners this year for a variety of reasons, is sure the world rankings - Spain are 10th - can be misleading.

''Spain in particular are definitely a team doing better and better.

''The world rankings don't change that often so perhaps they don't reflect teams in form at that time.

''The difference between the top 10 teams isn't much, so it's really important that no matter who we play we're really onto it."

A key areas of work in Barcelona were performing their basic skills under fatigue and pressure, Charlton said.

''If you can't perform basic skills in those situations you're definitely not going to do it when the pressure goes on in the bigger games," she said.

The bulk of their fitness work was done before they left New Zealand and Charlton is optimistic the Black Sticks won't fall short in that area.

Making the most of their chances in the attacking circle, and ensuring they are tight at the back are essentials.

New Zealand are hosting the World League final in Auckland late this year so in one sense they are sure of advancing. But Charlton said that issue hadn't even featured in their planning.

''We know probably one of our bigger downfalls at the moment is being able to win those crunch games in the last few years so this is a chance to get better at them."

New Zealand's pool B draw at the World League semifinal in Brussels

Tomorrow: v Spain (world No 10), 6am NZT

Saturday: v Australia (4), midnight

Monday: v Belgium (14), 2am

Wednesday: v Malaysia (22), 2am

Playoffs start June 29.