Just seven days after the end of the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest, 19th Men’s World Junior Championship (under 20 years) will begin. The championship will be held in Belgrade from 5th to 13th August.
Twenty teams will take part, they are split into four groups.
A press conference before the start of the competition was held in Belgrade hotel „Crown Plaza“ today.
Gianni Lonzi, the chairman of the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee, told that water polo had achieved a big success at the Championships in Budapest. 10.000 spectators per day watched water polo games. He said he expected that Belgrade and Serbia would be good hosts, and reminded that even 20.000 spectators had been in stands on some matches at the 2016 European Championships in Belgrade.
At the previous World Junior Championship (Almaty 2015), matches were played under proposed new rules (6 players, smaller ball, etc). After the Championships in Almaty, many coaches told that competition under the proposed rules wasn’t water polo.
Lonzi underlined at the press conference today:
The proposed rules were tested in Almaty. The upcoming championship will be played by the rules which are in the FINA book. We don’t want to change water polo to the other sport. We are not here to defend something, but to teach the people who don’t understand what real water polo is. Players should be with us. Europe is a leader in this sport, but all other continents are very important for the development of water polo.
Serbian Water Polo Federation general secretary Nemanja Marijan said:
Our country and our Federation has shown many times that they could be excellent hosts of sporting events. We thank the FINA which gave us the opportunity to show that once more. We are also preparing to apply for the organization of the World Women’s Junior Championship next year. The support which we get from FINA and from LEN means a lot for us.
World Championships director Darko Udovicic congratulated today’s 79th birthday to Gianni Lonzi and added:
We are ready for the start. We expect nine exciting days. 72 matches will be played at the Championship. The venue is „Milan Gale Muskatirovic“, that has 1.300 seats in the stands. I hope it will be enough for supporters.
The favourite number one is Serbia. The host team will be defending the title won in Almaty 2015.
Yes, our team is favourite, but it will be very difficult to defend the gold medal. Good chances have Montenegro, Greece, Hungary… There are many teams which can surprise. One of them is the USA team, for example – announced Udovicic.
All matches will be live streamed on the Facebook page of the Water Polo Federation of Serbia https://web.facebook.com/waterpoloserbia/?fref=ts
Groups and schedule
Group A: USA, Russia, Greece, Puerto Rico, Iran.
Group B: Netherlands, Montenegro, Spain, Japan, Croatia.
Group C: New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Serbia, China.
Group D: Italy, Hungary, Egypt, Canada, South Africa.
After the preliminary competition, group winners will advance to the quarterfinals. Second placed and third placed will play in the second preliminary round.
Greece – Puerto Rico (9.00), Russia – Iran (10.20)
Spain – Japan (11.40), Montenegro – Croatia (13)
Australia – China (16.30), Argentina – serbia (18.10)
Egypt – Canada (19.40), Hungary – South Africa (21)