There is a lot to be excited about this week as European water polo’s best women’s team compete in the 2022 Sardinia Cup.
The five day event in Sardinia, which starts today, serves as a warm up competition for the 35th European Championships, which take place in Split later this month. This exciting tournament will be particularly fascinating, owing to the high calibre of teams involved, and while the tournament is essentially a friendly contest, all the participating teams will likely not treat it as such. Despite some rotation in the squads, the respective coaches will be keen for their sides to be back competing against the very best.
The host nation Italy welcomes Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Israel to the Mediterranean Island for the competition – all of whom, with perhaps the exception of Israel, will be targeting Gold at this Summer’s European Championships. The tournament follows a round-robin format.
The form side coming to Sardinia are Hungary – who are fresh off the back of their World Championship high in Budapest, taking home the Silver.
The core of Attila Biro’s team is largely the same, but there are some notable absentees. Rita Keszthelyi and Rebecca Parkes are both not in the squad, with question marks over the nature of both of their involvements for Split.
Szilagyi, Gurisatti, Rybanska, Farago and Leimeter are all in the team, while Vanda Valyi will play in Italy for the first time since her move from Ferencvaros to Plebiscito Padova.
Into the squad comes six players who were not on the roster for the World Championships including Tamara Farkas, Brigitta Horvath and Kinga Peresztegi-Nagy. Two younger players who have impressed with the Junior National Team this summer earn a call up with Dalma Domsodi at centre, and Neszmely Boglarka – who is one of the two recalled travelling goalkeepers (Alexandra Kiss is the other).
Miki Oca will want a reaction from his squad after a disappointing 5th place finish in Budapest. The reigning European Champions will certainly feel this warm-up tourney is a good chance to get back on the horse after a painful fall at the World Championships.
The Spanish head coach delivers a show of faith in his star-studded team with practically no changes to the squad. There are now nine Sabadell players in the team, with the recent transfers of Bea Ortiz, Paula Leiton and Elena Ruiz earlier this month. Maica Garcia, Annie Espar, Pili Pena, Judith Forca and Irene Gonzalez are all present, while two of the younger players in the team, Paula Camus and Nona Perez remain. Laura Ester and Martina Terre are the keepers
The only addition to the team from Budapest is the very promising Maria Palacio – captain of the U19 team that won Gold at the European Championships in Netanya. The Sant Feliu player will hope her winning prowess can rub off on her teammates in Split, but more immediately she will look to find her feet in the senior national team for the first time.
The team that everyone is looking over their shoulders at for the moment is the Netherlands. A Bronze medal finish in Budapest was perhaps only the beginning for the hugely talented and well-balanced side led by Eva Doudesis, who arrive in Sardinia with a lot of confidence.
The Dutch stars from Budapest are not skipping Sardinia: Van der Sloot, Van de Kraats, Sevenich, Aarts, Joustra, Ten Broek and Wolves are all ready to go for the Oranges, while the team is boosted by the return of injury-absentee,. Maartje Keuning.
Maud Koopman, who spent last season in Hungary with Fradi comes into the side, as does Dutch reserve for Budapest, Fleur Bosveld – who next season has committed to play alongside Ten Broek at Terrassa. ZV De Zaan’s Britt van den Dobbelsteen is the back-up keeper, after making her senior debut earlier this year in the World League while Rozanne Voorvelt, a former Cal Bear alongside Kitty Joustra, will bolster the Dutch defence.
The hosts Italy have started to settle despite a few turbulent years, and the Setterosa will hope that they secure what would be a very important medal in Split after far too long without a medal of note.
Carlo Silipo recalls ten players for the Sardinia Cup from the team that narrowly missed out on a podium spot in Budapest. But the Italian coach is without Giulia Emmolo, Laura Teani and Elisa Queirolo who are all having time off.
Some of the reappointed players to the Setterosa include: Cergol, Repetto, Di Claudio, Mancinelli and Gant, as well as the very talented young Dafne Bettini – who would have almost definitely played in Budapest had it not been for school commitments in Italy.
Agnese Cocchiere of SIS Roma, who was a reserve for the World Championships, features in the enlarged squad. Ekipe Orizzonte’s’ goalkeeper, Aurora Condorelli, was also a reserve for Budapest, but now fills in for Laura Teani.
Alexia Kammenou leads a typically strong Greek side to Sardinia, with a lot of players who participated in Budapest. Like Italy, the medal drought continues for one of the best teams in Europe, something they need to rectify sooner rather than later.
Three of their best scorers of recent times are in the team: Eleni Xenaki, Eleftheria Plevritou and Vasiliki Plevritou (all hailing from Olympiacos Piraeus). The very strong young centre, Maria Myriokefalitaki also travels, as does Eirini Ninou – who has just extended her contract at Glyfada.
As Christina Siouti is away in Belgrade with the U18’s, two new players are given a call up – Phoebe Angelidi is recalled having played with the team for the European qualifiers, while U19 international Evdokia Tsimara also comes into the team, amidst her pending transfer to Alimos.
The target for Israel in Sardinia is clear, to make the most of every opportunity playing against Europe’s elite. The sports has grown greatly in the country, not least due to the increased number of high profile tournaments being held there, including of course, the next edition of the European Championships.
While a medal at a major tournament is a probably a step too soon, Israel have quite excellently found themselves, alongside the likes of France, in a position where they have a lot of investment in their very talented and exciting young team. If they continue to grow in the same way, the project will continue to show excellent results.
But more immediately, the Israeli’s will focus on Sardinia. Like Greece, they had to go through the qualifying process in which they topped their group containing France, Malta and Portugal.
While we have no confirmation of team news, we expect the team to feature many of the players that participated in the European Qualifiers, including: Dar Menakerman, Maria Bogachenko, Shunit Strugo, Kerem Noy Noa Sasover and Nofar Hochberg.
Fixture Schedule (CET)
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022
16:30 – Israel vs Hungary
18:30 – Netherlands vs Spain
20:00 – Italy vs Greece
Thursday, 4th August 2022
16:30 – Spain vs Israel
18:30 – Hungary vs Greece
20:00 – Netherlands vs Italy
Friday, 5th August 2022
16:30 – Greece vs Netherlands
18:30 – Spain vs Hungary
20:00 – Italy vs Israel
Saturday, 6th August 2022
08:30 – Israel vs Greece
16:30 – Netherlands vs Israel
18:30 – Greece vs Spain
20:00 – Italy vs Hungary
Sunday, 7th August 2022
10:30 – Netherlands vs Hungary
12:30 – Spain vs Italy
Hungary: Alexandra Kiss, Alda Magyari, Boglarka Neszmély, Dalma Domsodi, Kamilla Farago, Tamara Farkas, Krisztina Garda, Greta Gurisatti, Brigitta Horvath, Geraldine Mahieu, Zsuzsanna Mate, Dora Leimeter, Kinga Peresztegi-Nagy, Natasa Rybanska, Dorottya Szilagyi, Vanda Valyi
Spain: Laura Ester, Martina Terré, Judith Forca, Maica García, Irene González, Nona Pérez, Paula Camús, Paula Leitón, Bea Ortiz, Pili Peña, María Palacio, Cristina Nogué, Anni Espar, Elena Ruiz
Italy: Caterina Banchelli, Lucrezia Cergol, Anna Repetto, Roberta Bianconi, Sara Cordovani, Chiara Tabani, Silvia Avegno, Giuditta Galardi, Agnese Cocchiere, Sofia Giustini, Domitilla Picozzi, Luna Di Claudio, Sofia Mancinelli, Valeria Palmieri, Claudia Marletta, Giulia Viacava, Aurora Condorelli, Dafne Bettini, Veronica Gant
Netherlands: Laura Aarts, Britt van den Dobbelsteen, Bente Rogge, Maud Koopman, Sabrina van der Sloot, Maartje Keuning, Vivian Sevenich, Simone van de Kraats, Fleurien Bosveld, Nina ten Broek, Iris Wolves, Rozanne Voorvelt, Brigitte Sleeking, Marit van der Weijden, Kitty Lynn Joustra
Greece: Ioanna Stamatopoulou, Eleni Sotireli, Ioanna Chydirioti, Eleni Elliniadi, Athina – Dimitra Giannopoulou, Maria Myriokefalitaki, Irene Ninou, Maria Patra, Eleftheria Plevritou, Margarita Plevritou, Vasiliki Plevritou, Eleni Xenaki, Eleftheria Fountontou, Phoebe Angelidi and Evdokia Tsimara.
Israel: Ayelet Peres, Alma Yaacobi, Yahav Farkash, Maria Bogachenko, Veronica Kordonskaia, Hila Futorian, Shunit Strugo, Lior Ben David, Dar Menakerman, Noa Sasover, Nofar Hochberg, Moran Lindhout, Inbar Geva, Tahel Levi, Noa Markovsky
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