The Women’s Pan American Championships start on Sunday with 10 nations from North, Central and South America participating. This tournament held every two years also serves as the qualification for the World Championships and the top 3 teams will be awarded tickets to the 2015 in Germany.
It’s a real good bet that perennial favorites Brazil and Argentina will each win their groups, win their semifinal matches and then play each other in the final. Brazil will then be favored, but with the home crowd Argentina might have a shot of an upset. But, thanks to Cuba’s decision to not participate in the tournament that battle for third place could be real interesting and at least 6 teams can realistically talk about making the semifinals and taking the 3rd World Championships qualification slot.
I’m a huge fan of the website fivethirtyeight.com and their statistical projections for a variety of sports. The model they use relies on past results, but because there simply are not enough matches between the teams involved it wouldn’t make sense to run it through their algorithm. That being said, here’s my assessment based on relevant recent results for each team reaching the semifinals and qualifying for the World Championships (3rd Place or higher)
|Group A||Make Semifinals||WC Qualification (3rd place)|
|Group B||Make Semifinals||WC Qualification (3rd Place)|
It’s a bit of déjà vu for the U.S. as the situation for the 2017 Championships somewhat mirrors what took place in 2015. In 2015, the U.S. performed well at the North American & Caribbean (NORCA) Championships and we’re given a favorable draw that set the table for them to qualify for the World Championships. Alas, that didn’t happen as Greenland and Puerto Rico, two teams the U.S. had beaten at NORCA turned the tables on the U.S. and they ended up finishing in a disappointing 10th place.
Now two years later the U.S. has had another strong performance at NORCA, winning all their group play matches and just narrowly losing in the final to hosts, Puerto Rico. And, the draw is again favorable with all of their group matches winnable with the exception of its first opponent, Brazil. For the USA, its 2nd match of the tournament against Puerto Rico will be pivotal. A win there will put one foot in the door to the semifinals. On paper, the U.S. and Puerto Rico are very evenly matched having split their last 4 matches in qualification competitions with no side winning by more than 4 goals. I give Puerto Rico the edge as they stepped up in 2015 to take the last qualification spot available, but the U.S. surely can field some confidence having beaten Puerto Rico recently in Puerto Rico. Also, not to be dismissed is Paraguay which beat the USA 23-20 in 2015 and played Puerto Rico close, losing 33-29. Even Colombia, which hasn’t played recently in qualification events shouldn’t be discounted.
In the other pool, Uruguay is the favorite having beaten Chile twice in 2015 competitions and having placed 3rd at the 2015 PANAM Games. They also beat the U.S. twice in the 2015 Last Chance Qualification matches and had a convincing 21-15 victory over the U.S. in a friendly match played just this past Thursday. It would be a sweet, sweet revenge opportunity for the U.S. should they meet in a 3rd place bronze medal game, but let’s don’t get ahead of ourselves. There’s a lot of handball to be played in the coming week.
Results from Recent PHF Competitions
2017 NORCA Championships
April 3 (Gold Medal) Puerto Rico 28, USA 27
March 30 (Group Play) USA 28, Puerto Rico 26
2015 PANAM Games Qualification
March 7 Uruguay 30, USA 25
March 14 Uruguay 24, USA 22
2015 Pan American Championships
May 22 Paraguay 25, USA 24
May 23 Puerto Rico 23, USA 20
May 24 Puerto Rico 33, Paraguay 29
2015 NORCA Championships
April 2 (Group Play) USA 33, Puerto Rico 29
USA Women’s Schedule
Sunday, 18 June USA vs Brazil 1915 (Local), 1815 (ET)
Monday, 19 June USA vs Puerto Rico 1330 (Local), 1230 (ET)
Tuesday, 20 June <Day Off>
Wednesday, 21 June USA vs Colombia 1500 (Local), 1400 (ET)
Thursday, 22 June USA vs Paraguay 1430 (Local), 1330 (ET)
Friday, 23 June <Day Off>
Saturday, 24 June <Semifinals>
Sunday, 25 June <Placement Match>
Official Tournament website: Link
All of the matches will be live streamed by TyC Sports in Argentina. If the quality of the video matches what was recently provided for the Argentina – USA friendly match, fans around the world are in for a real treat.
TyC Sports Play: Link