Placement Matches- What’s at Stake

There’s more than just pride on the line for the 5th and 7th place matches this Saturday as teams will be competing for placement in the 3 Pre-Olympic Qualification Tournaments. In particular, the winner of the 7th place match between Iceland and Spain will secure the last guaranteed spot in one of the 3 tournaments. All won’t be lost for the 8th place team, though as there is a decent chance that they will move up to the 7th place spot if one of the teams ahead of them (2nd to 7th) wins the European Championship. As the European Champion will automatically qualify for the Olympics, the winner (or 2nd place if the WC wins) won’t have to play in a tournament for qualification. But there are no guarantees 8th will move up to 7th. While it wouldn’t be a surprise if Germany, Poland, France, Denmark, Russia, Croatia, Iceland or Spain wins the European Championships, it’s not outrageous to think that Norway (playing at home) or Sweden, could take the title as well.

For the 5th place match between Russia and Croatia there is the distinct possibility that the winner could get bumped up to 4th place, and therefore have the opportunity to host one of the tournaments. Again, this would be contingent on France, Denmark or the Germany/Poland Loser winning the European Championship.

[b]When is it Better to Finish 4th than 3rd or 2nd?[/b]

For the 3rd place bronze medal match, you could make a good argument that losing would be better for your Olympic prospects. There will be no draw for the Olympic tournaments and the system that has been put in place ensures that tournaments 1 and 2 will be the toughest with 3 European sides battling for 2 spots. Tournament 2 will also likely have Egypt or Tunisia participating- Two teams that have shown that they are at least capable of knocking off top European sides. Tournament 3 on paper, however, should be a cinch for the 2 European sides as they will likely take on (Korea, Kuwait or Qatar) and (Morocco or Angola). As the Russians will attest, the Koreans shouldn’t be taken too lightly, but given the choice of say, Sweden or Korea, I’m sure most sides will be happy to take on the Koreans.

Tournament 1
1) 2nd Place WC (Host)
2) 7th Place WC
3) 2nd Place at Europe Continental Championship
4) 2nd Place at Pan America Continental Championship

Tournament 2
1) 3rd Place WC (Host)
2) 6th Place WC
3) 2nd Place at Africa Continental Championship
4) 3rd Place at Europe Continental Championship

Tournament 3
1) 4th Place WC (Host)
2) 5th Place WC
3) 2nd Place at Asia Continental Championship
4) 3rd Place at Africa Continental Championship