LAUSANNE, Switzerland, June 9. THE preliminary rounds of the FINA Water Polo World Leagues are now complete, and the best teams are actively preparing their participation in their respective Super Finals. In the men's tournament, six preliminary rounds were held, with 10 teams qualified for the Super Final, while among women, all the six contenders for the decisive round are also selected.
In Novi Sad (SRB, May 23-25) and Portugalete (ESP, May 30-June 1), Serbia dominated Spain, Russia and Romania, winning all six games against its opponents. With a total of 18 points, Serbia finished the group well ahead the Iberians, with three victories and three losses; not qualified for the men's Super Final, Russia accumulated four defeats, while Romania was the last of the group with just one win (over Russia).
In the other European group, which played in Budva (MNE, May 23-25) and Athens (GRE, May 30-June 1), Montenegro dominated the operations, with five victories and just one loss. In a group with three qualification spots, Greece finished in second (14 points, corresponding to four triumphs and two losses), followed by Croatia (third, 8 points) and Italy (with six defeats), in fourth. But as the Super Final will be held in Genova (ITA), from June 16-22, Italy was qualified as host (leaving Croatia out of contention).
In the Oceania/Asia group, whose preliminary round took place in Tokyo (JPN, May 26-June 1), Australia largely imposed its superiority, winning its eight games (each team played twice with its opponent) against China, Japan, New Zealand and Iran. The Chinese team, preparing to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing also had a good tournament, triumphing on six occasions and losing its two matches against Australia. China is therefore the second and last qualifier of the group for the Super Final. Japan, New Zealand and Iran, finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Finally in Casablanca (MAR), from June 6-8, Egypt assured its presence in Genova with three wins in three games, against Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In this African tournament, the first in the history of the World League, Algeria was second with two triumphs and one defeat, while the host nation finished with one victory and two losses. Tunisia accumulated three unsuccessful games during the three-day event.
Besides the eight teams selected in the preliminary rounds, the squads of USA and Canada will also participate in the men's Super Final in Genova.
In the women's tournament, things were easier to define, with one tournament for Asia/Oceania (Tianjing, CHN, May 20-25) and two tournaments for the European teams – Siracusa (ITA, May 23-25) and Athens (GRE, May 30-June1). In China, the host country and Australia didn't have many problems qualifying for the Super Final, with Australia getting four victories out of four games and China two wins and two losses. Japan, the third team of the group, finished in the last position, with no successful matches.
In Europe, Russia was the team-to-beat, getting a total of 18 points for six victories in six games. Greece (4-2) was second of the group but had to leave its spot in the Super Final to Spain (third, 1-5), organizer of the competition in Santa Cruz del Tenerife, from June 10-15. Italy was the fourth and last of this group, also with five defeats and one single victory.
Together with Australia, China, Russia and Spain, the teams of USA and Canada will also compete in the Super Final of the 2008 FINA Women's Water Polo World League.
Special thanks to FINA for contributing this report.