It will be important for the Hungarian women's water polo team to get off to a good start in Fukuoka, as the draw has them immediately competing in the group stage with the Canadians on the first day of play. Certainly, victory over hosts Japan and New Zealand will not pose any difficulty in continuing, so the first match will determine whether our team will finish the group stage in first or second place. The first place would be very profitable from the point of view of not having to play in the round of 16 against a weak team (it would come South Africa or Argentina), but in the quarterfinals Attila Peru's team will certainly face the Spanish and Dutch duo. The slightly easier group leader and the slightly harder challenger will come in second place in the group, and the Spaniards and Dutch will decide among themselves who they are.
Of course, the tragedy would not happen even if our team had not won over the Canadians, they lost the group stage to the Italians at last year's World Championships in Budapest, but won World Cup silver. However, we are favorites and it would be nice to seize the opportunity. The two teams know each other well, having prepared together for the World Cup last year and this summer, and were in the same group at last year's World Cup in Budapest.
“Although we beat the Canadiens relatively easily in our last competitive match in Montreal, I expect a closer game on Sunday.” – said the captain of the national team, Attila Peru. – Of course I expect the team to win, but if the first match doesn't go as planned, we won't be disappointed either, the main questions will be decided in the direct elimination phase. A year ago, we lost to the Italians in the group stage, but we still managed to reach the final.”
It should be noted that the Canadian women's team arrived in Japan with fifteen players, whereas the men did not use the maximum number of players and were limited to naming only fourteen water polo players. However, David Paradillo, who has managed the national team since the spring of 2019, cannot rely on his best player, left-hander Keira Christmas, who has already weakened the team significantly. Only eight remain from the team that competed at last year's world championships in Budapest, and seven new players have arrived, so familiarity is not on the Canadians' side either. Ten of the 15 players who played in Europe in the clubs final season, for example, Hayley McKelvey was a teammate of Vanda Valli at Padua.
At the same time, everything is in favor of the Hungarians in the opening match, and the difficulty is caused precisely by the fact that it will be an opening match. Last year, the two teams met in the third round of the group stage, and we won 11-7 – there was a twelve-minute period in which they did not concede a goal. Likewise, we will settle in Fukuoka.