While Georgia, France, Germany, Romania, Ukraine and Malta advanced as expected in the qualification tournaments of the men’s U17 European Water Polo Championship, Poland caused an upset by beating Slovakia with a brilliant 4-0 run in the last period and that sent them through.
Poland caused the biggest surprise this weekend: after losing all four matches two years ago, now they can prepare to play on the big stage as they could beat Slovakia, Great Britain and Latvia to advance from Group D, behind host Malta.
In the decisive match, the Polish side came from behind against favourite Slovakia. The Slovaks jumped to a 4-1 lead in eight minutes, but their rivals held on, came back to 5-4, still, Slovakia led 6-4 before the last quarter. The Polish stepped up, though, and with a 0-4 storm in the final eight minutes they secured a berth at the championships. They also played a great game with Malta, the hosts won 15-13 to advance in the first place.
The other three groups lacked similar dramatic moments, the top two sides in Group B, Germany and France, and in Group C, Romania and Ukraine, all enjoyed easy cruising while delivering the expected victories. Group A had one qualified team, Georgia, which also claimed three fine wins. The host of the championships, Turkiye withdrew from playing in this tournament (as it had been the plans, before the devastating earthquakes hit the country).
The draw for the tournament shall take place on 1 April in Sabadell, site of the Champions League Women Final Four – the Championship kicks off on 8 August. Since LEN received 17 entries for the women’s competition, no qualification is necessary, all teams shall play at the Championship, also to be held in Manisa, on 29 July–5 August. The draw for this event will also happen in Sabadell.
Men’s European U17 Water Polo Championship, Qualifications – Final rankings
Group A (Tbilisi, GEO)
1. Georgia 9, 2. Lithuania 6, 3. Cyprus 3, 4. Czechia 0
Group B (Maribor, SLO)
1. France 12, 2. Germany 9, 3. Bulgaria 6, 4. Slovenia 3, 5. Austria 0
Group C (Targu Mures, ROU)
1. Romania 12, 2. Ukraine 9, 3. Moldova 6, 4. Ireland 3, 5. Switzerland 0
Group D (Gzira, MLT)
1. Malta 12, 2. Poland 9, 3. Slovakia 6, 4. Great Britain 3, 5. Latvia 0
Results, stats and more: https://len-ws.microplustimingservices.com/lenu17wpc2023/index_web.php?cal=1
Already qualified teams (1-8th in 2021): Serbia, Greece, Hungary, Spain, Montenegro, Croatia, Netherlands, Italy. Host: Turkiye.