First canoe polo world champions for 2022 set to be crowned on Saturday – ICF News

Germany’s quest for a quartet of world titles continued at speed on Friday at the 14th ICF Canoe Polo World Championships in France, with strong wins in the senior and U21 men’s and women’s competition setting them up to have a big say in the weekend hunt for medals.

Germany are reigning champions in three of the four divisions, but the list of countries circling for a piece of the action is long, and headed by host nation France, and teams from New Zealand, Spain and Italy.

The Germans are favourites to retain the senior men’s crown they won for the first time in 2018, having not dropped a match all week. But host nation France has found form after drawing their opening match of the tournament against Poland.

Captain David Linet said his team is hoping to take advantage of the capacity crowd expected in St-Omer this weekend for the finals.

“It’s a good pressure for us,” he said.

“We can see from the games that all the players on the team are enjoying having all these people in the crowd. It’s not the weekend yet so I think it will get a lot busier.

“We improve after each game, so we will see but we are happy here and we’ll continue like this.”

Spain and Italy, third and fourth at last month’s World Games, loom as other major threats in the men’s competition.

The Germans are also favourites in the women’s division, where they are chasing a seventh world crown. France beat them in the final of the World Games and once again pose a major threat, while New Zealand is looking to improve on the bronze medal they won in Birmingham.

Netherlands kept its hopes of a medal alive with a 4-3 win against Italy. Captain Charlotte Bakkes  said her team needed a win after drawing with Great Britain in the morning.

 “It was a very important win, these are very important points,” Bakkes said.

“We always end up in the 4-6 placings, and it’s always because we are not really used to playing finals and semi-finals. I think we can show we are supposed to be there as well, and I think a game like this actually shows us we can be in those semi-finals.”

In men’s U21 Germany remains the only unbeaten team, with Italy, Spain and Poland leading the chasing pack. Captain Julius Helm said beating France 3-0 gives his team confidence ahead of the weekend.

“We are totally happy, we had so much fun in this game, lots of good chances for us and we had them in the defence,” he said.

“We have a great team, we all play well together. There are still a few matches to go until the semi-finals, but we are still confident and we just want to win.”

New Zealand further strengthened its claim to gold medal favoritism with another comprehensive win on Friday. The Oceania team put seven goals past Spain, who remain favourites to take the final semi-final place on Saturday.

New Zealand, Germany and France are locked into the top three places, but all remaining teams could realistically claim fourth spot after Saturday’s one remaining round.

Poland, who struggled to find their rhythm all week after some of their team were involved in a car accident, kept their slim hopes alive with a 3-1 win over Italy, but now face Germany in the final round.

“We came together as a team, we gained some strength from our previous losses and we were best. It was a good match.

“Everybody had to go through their own battles after the accident, but this didn’t stop us.”
“There’s always a possibility, but right now we just have to focus and prepare ourselves both mentally and physically for this match because it won’t be easy.”

The men’s and women’s U21 world titles will be decided on Saturday afternoon, while the gold medalists in the senior competitions will be determined on Sunday.