The highlight of the group phase of the women’s tournament at the World Championships in Doha (February 4 – 17) will be, undoubtedly, the clash of the reigning Olympic and World champions.
The draw for the group phase at the Doha tournament was held today in the host city.
The female teams of the USA (Olympic champion) and the Netherlands (World champion) were drawn into the same group.
The groups are still incomplete because the six teams (three male and three female) will qualify from Europe. However, one of the derbies will be the clash in Group D. Reigning champion Hungary and Italy will play there.
2024 World Championships Doha, draw
Australia,South Africa,Europe 1, Spain.
Kazakhstan,Europe 3, Italy, Hungary.
Playing dates: February 5, 7, 9.
As mentioned, one of the derbies will be an encounter between Italy and Hungary in Group D, but one more, probably respectable team from Europe will play in this group, so the fourth participant, Kazakhstan, won’t have a big chance to reach 3rd place and qualify for the crossover round. Hungary won gold in Fukuoka, its first medal at the World Championships after silver in 2017 and the first title after 2013. Italy finished in 5th place at this years’ Worlds in Japan, but the “Settebello” didn’t lose a game in a regular time (Serbia beat Italy in the semifinals after a penalty shootout).
Spain, the 2022 World champion and the 2023 World Cup winner, will play against two non-European teams (Australia and South Africa), in Group A. Still, the fourth competitor in the group will be the best non-qualified team from the European Championship (or qualifications), so the clash between that team and Spain will probably be decisive for the top spot.
The only full group so far is Group B. Greece, the silver medalist from Fukuoka, is the favorite there. The most demanding opponent to the Greeks should be France.
The young team of the Olympic champion Serbia will face the best non-European team, USA, then Japan, which has caused headaches to the favorites many times, and the 2nd team from Europe in Group C. The Serbs, who were in the first pot of the draw, will have to do their best to win 1st place in the group. If there are no surprises, the second European team in this group will probably be Montenegro or Croatia. None of the teams in this group can be considered an underdog. Japan doesn’t belong to the world top, but the champion of Asia is a formidable opponent. This year, Serbia beat Japan by six goals in Fukuoka (16:10). USA was better than Serbia in the quarterfinals of the World Cup (10:9). Besides, the winner of Group C will have a very challenging opponent in the quarterfinals (find out the road to the medals bellow).
Brazil, USA, Kazakhstan, Netherlands.
Spain, Europe 1, China, Europe 2.
Singapore, Hungary, Australia, New Zealand.
Italy, South Africa, Europe 3, Canada.
Playing dates: February 4, 6, 8,
The big match of the group stage, USA – Netherlands, will be played already in the first round on February 4. The Americans and the Dutch faced off once this year. Team USA narrowly beat the Netherlands (12:11) in the final of the World Cup in Long Beach. A few months later, the USA was stopped by Italy in the quarterfinals of the Worlds in Fukuoka and lost the title after four consecutive medals at the Worlds. The Netherlands won its second title of the world champion (the first one after 1991). The remaining two teams in Group A, Brazil and Kazakhstan, will battle for 3rd place.
Spain, the European champion, is in Group B, with two probably excellent European teams, and China.
It could be said that Hungary had luck in the draw. The only challenging opponent to the Hungarians in Group Cwill be Australia.
As for Group D, Italy is a big favorite. But we still don’t know which team from Europe will come to this group.
ROAD TO MEDALS
Crossover round – Match 1: 2A – 3B, Match 2: 3A – 2B, Match 3: 2C – 3D, Match 4: 3C – 2D
Quarterfinals – QF1: 1A – winner Match 3, QF2: 1B – winner match 4, QF3: 1C – winner match 1, QF4: 1D – winner match 2
Semifinals: winners QF1 – QF2, winners QF3 – QF4.
Playing dates – Women: February 10, 12, 14, 16. Men: February 11, 13, 15, 17.
The World Championships in Doha is the last qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games in Paris. Four male and two female teams will earn their Olympic tickets for Doha.
These teams have qualified so far –
Men: France (host), Hungary, Greece (finalists of the World Championships), Japan (Asian champion), USA (Pan American champion), Australia (a representative of Oceania), South Africa (a representative of Africa),
Women: France (host), Netherlands, Spain (finalists of the World Championships), China (Asian champion), Australia (winner of the Oceania qualifications), USA (Pan American champion), South Africa (a representative of Africa).
One male and one female team should qualify for Paris from the European Championships. But, there is still no information if the European Championships or the qualifications will occur in January.
If European Aquatics doesn’t organize the continental championships or qualifications, the best European non-qualified team in each tournament in Doha will earn its spot at the Paris Olympics. The remaining teams will battle for the last six (4 +2) tickets.
According to the regulations of the International Olympic Committee, if a continental championship (or qualification tournament) doesn’t take place, the best non-qualified team from that continent at the 21st FINA World Championships Doha 2024 will earn a quota place.
Neither continental nor Olympic qualifications in Africa were held. Besides, there were no qualifications for the male teams in Zone Oceania. But, South Africa is the only representative of the water polo at the “Black Continent “in Doha, and Australia is the only Oceanian team in the World Men’s Championships. Therefore, all three teams have qualified for Paris, according to the IOC’s rules.