PR3 - Men’s League action begins Wednesday in four European countries
The Men’s FINA Water Polo World League 2009 starts on Wednesday, January 21 with opening matches in all three European Groups. The games are as follows (host nations listed first):
From Group 1 (Serbia, Greece, France): Serbia vs. France
From Group 2 (Montenegro, Italy, Romania): Italy vs. Romania
From Group 3 (Spain, Croatia, Russia, Germany): Croatia vs. Russia, Spain vs. Germany.
The League commences earlier in Europe this year because the preliminary round is a series of six individual home-or-away matches scheduled over five months, as opposed to the tournament format of previous years. However, this year’s preliminary round for Group Asia-Oceania (Australia, Japan, Iran, New Zealand) and Group Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Libya, South Africa) will still be decided through tournaments in the Spring. Two tournaments are set for Group Asia-Oceania, the first from May 22-24 in Australia, and the second from May 29-31 in New Zealand. Group Africa, with Libya and South Africa participating for the first time, will pay-off from May 21-24 in Casablanca (MAR).
From the preliminary competitions, two teams from Asia-Oceania, four teams from Europe and one team from Africa will advance to the Super Final, which will be held in Podgorica (MNE) from June 16-21. Team USA, as sole participant from Group Americas, will automatically advance to the Super Final.
Overall, the preliminaries include competition from 18 teams, including many of the best-ranked teams from the 2007 FINA World Championships, the 2008 World League, and the Beijing Olympics. With such formidable entries, this year’s League is expected to be a vivid demonstration of the strength, skill and endurance this fantastic sport requires. Finally, the geographic range of the 2009 edition is very encouraging, as it demonstrates the World League is successfully fostering the sport within regions and countries that never competed at an international level before.