An Outlook on the Men's World League Super Final tournament
Italian coach Sandro Campagna, on his arrival at the “Moraca” venue (which he defined as “fantastic”) directly from a training camp in Bressanone, Northern Italy at a height of 1000 metres, said his players have worked hard to improve their physical conditions and they are still working hard in order to achieve their best condition for the World Championships.
Campagna said: “I have also worked on their mental preparation; I want a winning attitude and this Super Final is just what we need to sharpen our condition.” He added: “Here, we will be able to play some high intensity games; for sure we will fight for possession on every ball, until the end of each game.”
The United States are the same team that surprised in Beijing, winning a well deserved silver medal and narrowly losing in the final against Hungary. Coach Terry Schroeder is confident about the capabilities of his players to perform again at the top level and challenge all the other major powerhouses.
The Olympic champions of Hungary are the only top-rated team missing from this competition. The home team of Montenegro is also among the favourites for victory in this Super Final. They will be boosted by the contagious enthusiasm and heated support of a large record crowd of 4000, who, according to the organisers, is expected to fill every centimetre of the tribunes reserved to the public. Some are predicting that Montenegro will also be among the favourites for victory in Rome, although the mounting pressure since they won the European Championships 2008 last summer in Malaga could be a hindering factor in their aspirations.
The federation of Montenegro and the local authorities and institutions have worked hard and efficiently to build the new swimming complex and prepare - in just 100 days - the perfect setting for the eighth edition of this increasingly popular FINA competition.
As Gianni Lonzi, the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee Chairman and the master mind behind the project, puts it “all the national federations now think that the World League is essential to their competitive programme; Hungary (who won the titles back in 2003 and 2004) could soon decide to join the party again.”
Serbia has trained in the United States for ten days and played three matches against the US national team, it is well-oiled and can count on a squad of experienced players, led by coach Dejan Udovicic, to possibly retain its title from last year in Genoa: that would be the third in a row, the fifth consecutive if we count the years of 2005 and 2006, when it incorporated Montenegro.
Croatia, the defending world champions, with “master” coach Ratko Rudic at the helm, is also aiming to win this competition and, at the same time, sharpen their weapons for Rome, where they will strive to retain their world title. The Croatian team is a well moulded combination of both very experienced and young players: a mix that could prove lethal.
Australia is still a most-respected team, even if it suffered the withdrawal of the senior core of their players. On top of that Pietro Figlioli, the lethal 25-year old striker, told Aussie Sharks head coach John Fox about a month ago about his decision to become an Italian citizen, as a part of a lucrative 5-year deal signed with Italian club Pro Recco. Figlioli has already played four seasons in Europe: with CN Barcelona in Spain, a year with Pro Recco and the last two seasons with Sori (before re-signing with Pro Recco). With Figlioli’s departure, seven players from last year’s Beijing Olympics will not be available.
Japan, always trying to step up to the next level in the water polo hierarchy, and South Africa, a rookie in this competition, complete the field.