The Women's Youth Championship is today moving into the final stage after the group play that started in the Dominican Republic a week ago. The event has been characterized by logistical problems but on the courts everything has looked normal in most respects. This includes the results so far.
From group A we saw Netherlands and Denmark move on to today's quarterfinals; while this was not so unexpected, perhaps it could be seen as a small surprise that the Netherlands won the group. (In combination with their strong showing in the Junior World Championship last month, it seems to suggest that the Netherlands has a new strong generation coming along on the women's side). Most observers will be confounded by the weak performance of the German team.
In the neighboring group, Norway did not meet much resistance until they played the host team from the Dominican Republic in the last match of the group play. So my prediction that the favorable seeding and draw of the host country team would see them through to the quarterfinals came true. Denmark and Norway are now playing in an intriguing quarterfinal match-up today. Netherland takes on the Dominican Republic.
In group B, Uruguay got the third place and next play Angola, even if up to the last minute the IHF seemed to misinterpret its own regulations and give that spot to Japan… German media were already discussing the suggested Germany-Uruguay match-up, which now correctly turns into a Germany-Japan pairing in the quest for 13th place.
Sweden was unexpectedly superior in group C, where it came down to the wire between France and Hungary for the other quarterfinal spot. Their game on the final day ended in a tie, with France moving on thanks to a better overall goal difference. In group C, the strongest one on paper, my suspicions were confirmed. Korea and Brazil tend to have to defend the honor of the non-Europeans in all women's events, but here they were unable to keep up with Russia and Spain.
So we now have interesting quarterfinals between Sweden and Spain, and between Russia and France, The perennial women's 'super powers' Korea and Hungary have to be content with fighting it out for 9th place. You can follow the results through the IHF web site: http://www.ihf.info/IHFCompetitions/WorldChampionships/WomensYouthWorldChampionships/WomensYouthWorldChampionship2010/FixturesandResults/tabid/5094/Default.aspx