The final two berths for the Women’s World Cup Finals will be dished out this week in Berlin.
Earlier in the month, we saw five European sides—the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Greece—as well as the hosts, the United States, book their place in the Finals of the World Cup from Division 1. Two teams from Division 2, however, will also get the chance to take on those ‘big hitters’, and potentially secure early qualification for the 2024 World Championships in Doha.
On paper, it would seem that Israel (Group A) and New Zealand (Group B) are the obvious choices to progress to Long Beach in June. As both teams are looking to climb the ranks, qualifying for these World Cup Finals is crucial if they want to continue to rub shoulders alongside the elite. However, with a tough schedule of four games in three days awaiting all the teams, high levels of stamina and mental focus will be required to get the job done.
The inclusion of the ‘Stans’ bolsters Asia’s interest in the sport, while South Africa continue to fly the flag for their continent. The hosts Germany will hope
There are eight teams from four different continents. They are divided into two groups of four. Each team will play against the other teams in their group. The team with the most points in Group A will play against the second-placed team in Group B, and the team with the most points in Group B will play against the second-placed team in Group A. The teams that win these ‘play-off’ games will qualify for the World Cup Finals.
There is arguably a strong favourite in both groups, but the format of this competition does allow a small margin for error, meaning qualification to the World Cup Finals in Long Beach, even if a team secures a second place finish in the group.
Group A – South Africa, Israel, Uzbekistan, Ukraine
Group B – New Zealand, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Germany
All the hype in Group A will be on Israel as they look to continue the momentum they have built over the last year. The huge progress made by their women’s program is underlined by their historic 6th place finish in Split – which also saw them qualify for their first ever World Championships this summer in Fukuoka. Dimitrios Mavrotas brings a squad of real quality to Berlin – a team that, by rights, should be more than capable of tidying up in this group.
South Africa will look to keep pace with the Israelis. They might not be able to match them for momentum, but they certainly have superior credentials on the international stage: with their Olympic debut in Tokyo and enjoying their best ever finish at last year’s World Championships in Budapest (13th). Ukraine’s first-ever participation in a World Aquatics competition is admirable at a time of extreme difficulty, while Uzbekistan’s senior team will be making a long-awaited return to the international stage after a decade-long hiatus.
New Zealand will be absolutely determined to progress to the World Cup Finals in Long Beach, but the Silver Ferns need to clear the first hurdle in the German capital. Kazakhstan could be the ones to cause the problem for the Kiwis; while New Zealand did win when the two sides last met back in Budapest last summer (15-11), they lost the previous five meetings between each other, so the Silver Ferns will need to tread with caution.
Germany and Great Britain, both of whom find themselves in the same European Championships qualifying group, arrive at this tournament without key players, who have club and collegiate commitments. Both countries will use this competition to begin the process of restoring their respective programs to the level of previous years.
Tuesday 2nd May
08:30 – Group A – South Africa v Israel
10:00 – Group A – Uzbekistan v Ukraine
11:30 – Group B – New Zealand v Great Britain
13:30 – Group B – Kazakhstan v Germany
16:00 – Group A – South Africa v Ukraine
17:30 – Group A – Uzbekistan v Israel
19:00 – Group B – Kazakhstan v Great Britain
20:30 – Group B – New Zealand v Germany
Wednesday 3rd May
14:00 – Group A – Uzbekistan v South Africa
15:45 – Group A – Ukraine v Israel
17:30 – Group B – Kazakhstan v New Zealand
19:15 – Group B – Germany v Great Britain
Thursday 4th May
14:00 – 7th place play-off – 4B v 4A
15:45 – 5th place play-off – 3B v 3A
17:30 – WC Finals play-off – 1A v 2B
19:15 – WC Finals play-off – 1B v 2A
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