On the eve of the second tournament of the Women’s World Cup Division 1, the draw for the water polo tournaments at the 20th World Championships in Fukuoka was conducted in Athens today.
Besides the medals, four Olympic berths will be at stake. The finalists of both women’s and men’s tournaments will be the first qualified teams for the 2024 Paris Games (of course, host France is automatically qualified)
2023 World Championships (Fukuoka, July 16 – 29), Draw
Men, Group stage (July 17 – 21)
GROUP A: USA, Australia, Kazakhstan, Greece
GROUP B: China, France, Canada, Italy
GROUP C: Croatia, Hungary, Brazil, Japan
GROUP D: South Africa, Serbia, Montenegro, Spain.
“The group of the death” of the men’s tournament is the one where two reigning champions were drawn. World champion Spain and Olympic champion Serbia are in Group D, along with Montenegro. The only underdog in this group is South Africa. Spain is the favorite for 1st place, which secures a spot in the quarterfinals. However, the rejuvenated teams of Serbia and Montenegro, which both have changed their rosters significantly in the last two years, can battle for 1st place.
Spain and Serbia will meet already on the first competition day, July 17.
A very balanced battle for 1st place in Group C is expected, because the finalists of the 2022 European Championships are here. The European champion Croatia and the runner-up from the Europeans in Split, are teams of similar qualities. Of course, both are contenders for the medals and the Olympic berths.
At first sight, luck was with Italy, the silver medalist at the 2022 Worlds. The “Settebello” is the only favorite in Group B, but it shouldn’t underestimate France, Canada and China, the teams that can surprise.
Greece is the contender for the top spot in Group A and for the ticket for the quarterfinals, but the United States and maybe Australia might spoil the Greeks’ plans.
ROAD TO MEDALS, MEN
Crossover round (July 23) – Match 1: 2A – 3B, Match 2: 3A – 2B, Match 3: 2C – 3D, Match 4: 3C – 2D
Quarterfinals (July 25) – QF1: 1A – winner Match 3, QF2: 1B – winner match 4, QF3: 1C – winner match 1, QF4: 1D – winner match 2
Semifinals: (July 27): winners QF1 – QF2, winners QF3 – QF4.
Final Day (July 29)
Women, Group stage (July 16 – 20)
GROUP A: China, France, USA, Australia.
GROUP B: Spain, Israel, Netherlands, Kazakhstan.
GROUP C: Brazil, Greece, Italy, South Africa.
GROUP D: Canada, New Zealand, Hungary, Japan.
Hungary was the winner of the draw. The silver medalist from the 2022 World Championships won’t have very demanding tasks. The Hungarians’ strongest opponent should be the newly-crowned Pan-American champion, Canada, but even Canada shouldn’t pose a big danger for Hungary, which is much stronger than the remaining two rivals, host Japan and New Zealand.
There are two teams from the circle of the medal contenders in each of the remaining three groups. The Olympic and world champion USA is the favorite in Group A, but Australia can be a tough opponent.
It’s expected that the European and World League champion Spain and the Netherlands, which won bronze at the 2022 World Championships will battle for 1st place in Group B.
Greece, the runner-up, and Italy, the bronze medalist, from the 2022 Europeans are contenders for the top spot in Group C.
ROAD TO MEDALS, WOMEN
Crossover round (July 22) – Match 1: 2A – 3B, Match 2: 3A – 2B, Match 3: 2C – 3D, Match 4: 3C – 2D
Quarterfinals (July 24) – QF1: 1A – winner Match 3, QF2: 1B – winner match 4, QF3: 1C – winner match 1, QF4: 1D – winner match 2
Semifinals: (July 26): winners QF1 – QF2, winners QF3 – QF4.
Final Day (July 28)