After a hugely successful year for the women’s game last year, the first significant international contests of 2022 begin tomorrow in the European Qualification Round of FINA Women’s World League. The six European teams, who are split into two groups of three, will all qualify for the second round to be played in Santa De Cruz, Tenerife, in April, but a favourable classification in Round 1 could prove massively important. As usual with the World League, only four European teams will make the cut, meaning two nations will miss out. The two teams that finish top in their group automatically progress to the semi-finals, while the 2nd placed team in Group A will face the 3rd placed team in Group B, with the same applying for the second placed team in Group B with the third placed team in Group A.
Group A – Greece, Hungary, Netherlands
Group B – Russia, Italy, Spain
19:00pm – Group A – Greece vs Hungary
16:00pm – Group B – Russia vs Italy
Alexia Kammenou named a strong Greek side to face Hungary. Eight of the side are members of the Olympiacos team (Stamatopoulou, E. Plevritou, Vasiliki Plevritou, Eleftheriadou, Xenaki, Myriokefalitaki, Siouti and Tricha), while Maria Patra, Stefania Santa (both Vouliagmeni), Eleni Sotireli and Alkistis Benekou (Ethnikos) feature in the squad. NC Glyfada’s sole representative in the side in Stamatina Kontogianni.
While Attila Biro is without some notable absences, partly due to injury and partly due to illness, he still names a strong Hungary squad which includes five of their Olympic Bronze medallists from Tokyo: Magyari, Garda, Leimeter, Parkes and Szilagyi. Kamilla Farrago, Sonja Kuna, Tamara Farkas and Zsuzsanna Mate are all rewarded for excellent performances in the OB so far this season. Rita Keszthelyi-Nagy, Greta Gurisatti and Natasa Rybanska are all not part of the squad.
Instead, Hungary will give debuts to four young players as they travel to Patras to take on Greece. Two Ferencvaros players are amongst the debutants (Dalma Domsodi and Panna Pocze), while UVSE’s Panni Szegedi also deserves a call up. Hungarian legend Gergely Kiss will be proud of his daughter, Alexandra, as she is one of the three goalkeepers travelling alongside Alda Magyari and reserve Lilla Maczko.
Sergei Markoch names his very first Russian side to great the visiting Italians tomorrow. Russia will have Evgeniya Golovina, Polina Popova, Anastasia Panfilova, Maria Bersneva and Yulia Lapteva, all of Dynamo Uralochka, in the side. Bella Markoch travels back from Spain to play, while Mariia Borisova, who is also in the side, knows her opponents well, having settled in very well at Plebiscito Padova. Ekaterina Prokofyeva, Daria Soboleva, Evgeniya Ivanova and Anna Karnaukh are all absent for tomorrow.
Italy know they face a tough assignment away to Russia, but Carlo Silipo, in his first competitive match as Italian Head Coach, has a team full of quality and very capable of getting a result in the town of Ruza, 80km from the capital Moscow. Not only have Italy changed their coach since the last time they played a competitive test match, the role of captain has also change, with the honour going to Valeria Palmieri of Orizzonte Catania, after over 140 games for the Setterosa. Plebiscito Padova’s keeper, Laura Teani, returns as Italy’s number one, alongside her club team mate Elisa Queirolo, who also is called up.
Six of Italy’s team are from SIS Roma including Chiara Tabani, Luna Di Claudio, Giuditta Galardi, Domitilla Picozzi, and sharpshooters, Agnese Cocchiere and young Sofia Giustini.
2021 – United States
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2013 – China
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2008 – Russia
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2005 – Greece
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