Group B at the Women’s World League Super Finals sees the two Southern-hemisphere teams meet European Royalty on the shores of Tenerife this week.
While Group B might be the slightly weaker of the two groups, it doesn’t really take away from the fact that the group will be just as competitive. Three teams in Group B eying up a place in the semi-finals, and only two spaces, means a top-team will have to settle for a bottom-four finish in Tenerife.
It will be interesting to see how the Australians fare against Europe’s top team, and if they can ever overcome Hungary – with whom they have started to share something of a rivalry with. New Zealand are probably separated from the pack, but they can cause problems for any of the other three teams if they aren’t at their best.
You can read the preview article for Group A here.
World League 2020/21: Did not attend
Best results in the World League: Silver (4), Bronze (6)
Road to Tenerife: 1st World League Intercontinental Cup, Lima
Head coach: Paul Oberman
Roster: Gabi Palm, Genevieve Longman, Abby Andrews Charlize Andrews, Zoe Arancini, Hayley Ballesty, Tenealle Fasala, Bronte Halligan, Sienna Hearn, Tilly Kearns, Bridget Leeson-Smith, Jamie Oberman, Amy Ridge, Ruby Swadling, Alice Williams
Australia, as always, is a fascinating case heading into these World League Super Finals. Paul Oberman has an extremely talented group of players, and it seems only a matter of time before their project goes ‘bang’ (in a good way).
The Stingers are another non-European team that has seen an influx of players moving to the continent to play their water polo, which is largely a positive, but due to the dispersed nature of the team’s players, the Stingers struggle to find sufficient time to train together.
However, the Stingers have spent some good time together over the summer, with a very successful tour to Europe after the World Championships. The team spent the last week in Zeist, enjoying a joint training camp with the Netherlands and the United States. For this tournament, Australia is fielding their strongest possible team; Bronte Halligan, Tilly Kearns, Gabi Palm, and Hayley Ballesty are all included.
Starting off against Hungary, if Australia can come out of that game with a positive result, it has a good chance of advancing to the semifinals.
World League 2020/21: 5th
Best results in the World League: Silver (1)
Road to Tenerife: 2nd World League Euro Finals, Tenerife
Head coach: Miki Oca
Roster: Martina Terre, Laura Ester, Paula Camus, Anni Espar, Judith Forca, Maica Garcia, Irene Gonzalez, Paula Leiton, Cristina Nogue, Bea Ortiz, Maria Palacio, Pili Pena, Nona Perez, Elena Ruiz
There was a huge sense of disappointment after placing fifth at the World Championships, but Spain rallied and displayed incredible quality by defending their European title in Split. Miki Oca has essentially retained the same team from that tournament, with the exception of Paula Prats, who has been replaced by Maria Palacio.
What we are seeing from the Spanish is a master-class in integrating young talent with some of the veterans of the team. The iconic generation of Laura Ester, Anni Espar, Maica Garcia, and Pili Pena is blending effortlessly with the youth of Elena Ruiz, Nona Perez, Cristina Nogue, Paula Camus, and Martina Terre – who are all now impactful members of the national team in the present and the future.
The hosts start against New Zealand and faces Hungary on the second day. Given recent form, they could go into the third day against Australia with qualification for the semi-finals already in the bag.
World League 2020/21: Did not qualify
Best results in the World League: Never participated
Road to Tenerife: Brazil Withdrawal; 10th World Championships, Budapest
Head coach: Angie Winstanley-Smith
Roster: Jessica Milicich, Emily Nicholson, Emmerson Houghton, Millie Quin, Katie McKenty, Gabriella Macdonald, Gabrielle Milicich, Kaitlin Howarth, Lucia Doak, Kelsey Snelgar, Kate Henderson, Ella Palmer, Darcy Spark, Alisha Winstanley
Tenerife is a great chance for New Zealand to improve its program with a group of young, hungry players at their first ever World League Super Finals tournament. A top-10 finish would have been an outstanding result for the Kiwis at the World Championships, but they know it could have been even better had they not narrowly missed out on a top-eight place instead of France.
New Zealand don’t necessarily come to Tenerife with their strongest possible squad, with many players away at university in America; Morgan McDowall and Bernadette Doyle are big misses for the Silver Ferns. However, Emmerson Houghton was outstanding in Budapest, taking the responsibility in front of goal. Jessica Milicich, Emily Nicholson, and Katie McKenty are all currently gaining valuable experience playing in Europe.
It won’t matter to Winstanley-Smith that her team are considered underdogs for Tenerife; her team is certainly developing into a nation that can compete at the highest echelons of the game. It might not click for the team in Tenerife, but under a incredibly talented coach, New Zealand are one of the fasting growing national teams in the women’s game.
World League 2020/21: 2nd
Best results in the World League: Silver (2)
Road to Tenerife: 4th World League Euro Finals, Tenerife
Head coach: Attila Biro
Roster: Alda Magyari, Boglarka Neszmely, Vanda Baksa, Kamilla Farago, Krisztina Garda, Kata Hajdu, Rita Keszthelyi-Nagy, Dora Leimeter, Geraldine Mahieu, Zsuzsanna Mate, Rebecca Parkes, Panna Pocze, Dorottya Szilagyi, Vanda Valyi
After a disappointing showing at the European Championships in Split, Hungary has a point to prove heading to Tenerife. It still feels like Attila Biro is shuffling his pack around in search of finding the right balance in his squad, but sooner or later, the Hungarian coach will need to find a formula that works if his side are to reach the summit of their ambition.
Split was a blip for the Magyars, and that shouldn’t fool people into thinking that Hungary is not a top-quality side with top-quality players. They’ll be boosted by the inclusion of the returning Rita Keszthelyi-Nagy, who has been in super hot form for Mataro since the start of the season. Hungary will hope that the top goal scorer from the European Championships, Greta Gurisatti, brings her ‘A game’ once more. Krisztina Garda, Dora Leimeter, Dorottya Szilagyi, Vanda Valyi and Alda Magyari are all capable of moments of brilliance.
This Hungarian team seems so temperamental that everything might rest on their opening clash against Australia; winning that game would set them in very good stead for the rest of the tournament, but a loss there would put them in a really challenging spot.
Wednesday, 2nd November
08:40 – Netherlands vs United States
10:20 – Australia vs Hungary
12:00 – Canada vs Italy
13:40 – Spain vs New Zealand
Thursday, 3rd November
08:40 – Canada vs United States
10:20 – Netherlands vs Italy
12:00 – Australia vs New Zealand
13:40 – Spain vs Hungary
Friday, 4th November
08:40 – Netherlands vs Canada
10:20 – New Zealand vs Hungary
12:00 – United States vs Italy
13:40 – Spain vs Australia
Saturday, 5th November
08:40 – 3a vs 4b (game 13) (5th-8th SF)
10:20 – 3b vs 4a (game 14) (5th-8th SF)
12:00 – 1a vs 2b (game 15) (Semi Final 1)
13:40 – 1b vs 2a (game 16) (Semi Final 2)
Sunday, 6th November
08:40 – Loser game 13 vs loser game 14 (7th-8th)
10:20 – Winner game 13 vs winner game 14 (5th-6th)
12:00 – Loser game 15 vs loser game 16 (Bronze)
13:40 – Winner game 15 vs winner game 16 (Final)
2020, Athens – United States
2019, Budapest – United States
2018, Kunshan – United States
2017, Shanghai – United States
2016, Shanghai – United States
2015, Shanghai – United States
2014, Kunshan – United States
2013, Beijing – China
2012, Changshu – United States
2011, Tianjin – United States
2010, La Jolla – United States
2009, Kirishi – United States
2008, Santa Cruz – Russia
2007, Montreal – United States
2006, Cosenza – United States
2005, Kirishi – Greece
2004, Long Beach – United States
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