Favourites qualify, Slovenia edges out Georgia

After an epic weekend of water polo action across the continent, the large majority of favourites secured their tickets to the final stage of the European Aquatics U19 Water Polo Championships Burgas 2024 after delivering the expected wins at the qualification tournaments.

One minor hiccup occurred, though, as Slovenia managed to grab the second qualifying spot ahead of Georgia in Group B.

The teams expected to finish as group winners made no mistakes and claimed big wins in all their matches to finish top of their respective groups.

France, Türkiye, Malta and the Netherlands dominated almost all of their matches – with the exception being Türkiye – as the first-ranked sides recorded large-margin victories, by five goals or more.

The only match where Türkiye had to overcome minor headaches in Group B was against Sweden, as on day four the Scandinavians fought back from five goals down to make it 13-12 late in the fourth, but ultimately lost 15-13.

Indeed, it was the Swedish team that caused the biggest upset of the weekend when they upended Georgia while staging a 3-0 finish to win 11-10.

Ultimately, the Georgians paid dearly for the loss – they needed at least a five-goal win against Slovenia on the last day to advance and they fell one shy at the end.

During the game, they were up by five a few times, including at the start of the fourth (15-10), but in the final minutes the Slovenians managed to narrow the gap to three and the last Georgian goal came too late, 40 seconds from time for 18-14 and that sent Slovenia through.

Apart from those thrilling moments, the other qualifiers also did a professional job, as Czechia in Group A fended off Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Great Britain, to finish second, and Romania was also superior in Group D to make the cut behind the Netherlands.

In Group C, only one berth was available as the host of the Europeans, Bulgaria, also took the opportunity to play matches in the qualifiers.

So here only Malta went through besides the hosts of the event, which takes place on 1-7 September in Burgas, Bulgaria.

Qualification Tournaments, Final Rankings
Group A (Trebinje, BIH)
1. France 12, 2. Czechia 9, 3. Bosnia and Herzegovina 6, 4. Great Britain 3, 5. Finland 0

Group B (Maribor, SLO)
1. Türkiye 12, 2. Slovenia 6, 3. Sweden 6, 4. Georgia 6, 5. Switzerland 0

Group C (Lodz, POL)
1. Malta 9, 2. Poland 6, 3. Slovakia 3, 4. Bulgaria 0

Group D (Bucharest, ROU)
1. Netherlands 12, 2. Romania 9, 3. Ukraine 6, 4. Cyprus 3, 5. Lithuania 0

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