This past Friday the draw for Men’s PATHF Elite Championship was held in Chile. The resulting draw features a relativey weak Group A with Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Canada and a strong Group B with Brazil, Cuba, Greenland and the Dominican Republic. Arguably, based on recent results, Group B has 4 of the 5 best teams in PATHF and is a legitimate “Group of Death.”
At first glance this draw result might be a reason to suspect shenanigans with host Chile being given an easy ride to the semifinals. The PATHF procedures, however, suggest it was only a result of mildly good fortune.
The eight teams were grouped into 4 rows based on the results of the 2008 Championship.
Row 1= BRA / ARG (1st and 2nd in 2008)
Row 2= CUB /CHI (3th and 4th)
Row 3= GRL / URU (5th and 6th)
Row 4= DOM / CAN (1st and 2nd, during last First Division PATHF Championship)
Rows 1, 3 and 4 were drawn into groups A and B. Chile as the host was then allowed to choose which Group it preferred.
Brazil and Argentina are the clear favorites and will likely play for the title. The remaining 6 teams in all likelihood will battle for 3rd place and the last ticket to the World Championships in Sweden.
Cuba was 3rd in 2008 and Chile was guaranteed to avoid them since they were on the same row. Greenland (3rd in 2006) and a resurgent Dominican Republic, bolstered by Cuban expats were the teams to avoid. At least one of those teams could be avoided for sure and there was a 50% chance that they would be drawn together, which was the result that occurred.
Chile’s good fortune is equally good fortune for Canada. Both Uruguay and Chile beat them two years ago, but they surely would rather face those nations than either Cuba or Greenland. Regardless, getting to the semifinals is just half the battle. A victory in the 3rd place game will be the key to a World Championship ticket. The 2010 PATHF Men’s Championships will take place from 22-26 June in Chile.
PATHF: Draw Results: http://www.panamhandball.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=85&Itemid=39