After solid showing at the pre-Worlds tournament in Belgium the South African contingent has arrived in the South into France for the 2014 Canoe Polo World Championships from 24-28 September.
At the pre-Worlds tournament the three South African sides fared well with the senior men’s side ending in eighth position overall with the women ending fifth out of eight teams and the under-21 men finishing 12th out of 16 teams.
The team has now made their way to Thury Harcourt where the tournament will get underway on Wednesday and following the scrutineering process the teams are ready to start the tournament in what appear to be cold conditions.
The senior men’s side find themselves in Group C with hosts France, Denmark, Poland, Chinese Taipei and Singapore.
With the event only happening every two years the senior men’s side find themselves in the same group as 2012 World Champions Poland as well as fourth place finishers France. Having to take on the French in front of their home crowd could prove to be a difficult task for our men.
The women’s draw is no less daunting with our ladies having to take on 2012 runners-up Germany as well as Switzerland, Singapore and Russia for an opportunity to advance in the competition.
2014 will only be the second time that the Under-21 men category will be contested and our Under-23’s have been placed in what could be called the ‘group of death’ with defending champions Poland and 2012 runners-up France in their group along with Italy.
Coach of the senior men’s and women’s team Clive Whitton has been pleased with the preparations of both of the sides in the build-up to what should be an exciting World Championships.
“Preparation has gone well, all members of the team are improving well and the structures are starting to fall into place in time for the World Champs,” he said. “I want us to finish in the top 16 which will give us automatic qualification for the next Worlds, but after having a number of players withdrawing from the team I will be happy with a top 20 placing too.”
Both sides have a difficult draw at the tournament with tough teams in their pool but Whitton sees this as an exciting challenge for his players and he believes the hardest test will be adjusting to the high level of the international game.
“I am very excited to pit ourselves against the top teams in the world and be a part of what is expected to be the best World Champs to date, we are an experienced team that has the ability to play a controlled game, which will enable us to be very competitive against the better teams.
“Our biggest challenge, as always is adapting to the high level of play. We only get exposed to this once every two tears and there is always a period of adjustment before we settle down. As long as we can use the pre world tournament to do this we will be able to go into Worlds prepared and ready to prove ourselves,” the coach added.