Men’s Pan American Championship Group Draw

The Pan American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) drew the 8 nations participating into two separate groups today. The resulting groups are:

Group A (Argentina, Greenland, Chile, Canada)
Group B (Brazil, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Cuba)

– The pairings on each rung of the ladder were 1) Brazil, Argentina; 2) Greenland, Dominican Republic; 3) Chile, Uruguay; 4) Canada, Cuba Apparently, the Dominican Republic, simply took the USA spot in the draw. The USA had placed 4th at the 2006 championship and hence was seeded in the 2nd group. The Dominican Republic had qualified for the tournament as the 3rd place team from the Division 1 Championship and probably should have been seeded in the 4th group. Granted every team simply has to win their matches, but more thought could have gone into the seeding and draw.
– The top 3 teams will qualify for the 2009 World Championships in Croatia. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the semifinals, so those 3 spots will come from those 4 teams. Argentina and Brazil are the odds on favorites to play in the Gold Medal match. Cuba, which played well at the Pan Am Games will be the odds on favorite to advance from Group B. Group A should have an interesting fight for the 2nd spot between Greenland, Chile and Canada.
– Argentina’s veteran National Team player, Eric Gull has returned to the National Team after an extended absence. Gull, along with fellow Spanish League professional Andres Kogovsek played in Argentina’s loss to Iceland in Olympic Qualifier play in Croatia. Gull’s return is likely linked to Argentina’s selection of new National Team coach, Eduardo Gallardo. Gallardo previously coached Argentina’s top club team, River Plate as well as Argentina’s Youth Team which placed 4th at last year’s World Championship. According to Ruben Gomez, a former Argentine IHF Official and owner of the Mexico Forum website , Argentina has sent a youngish team to the qualifiers with an eye towards 2012. 4 players are over 30, but most of the rest are in their early 20’s.