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Date: 8/22/2012

After six match days and overall 40 matches the preliminary round of the IV Women’s Youth World Championship in Montenegro has come to an end – and as expected the wheat has been separated from the chaff. Seven of eight quarterfinalists come from Europe – and those identical teams were exactly the top seven in the final ranking of the 2011 Under-17 European Championship in the Czech Republic.

Japan are the only non-European team in the knock-out stage – and they have to climb a high mountain in their quarterfinal against European silver medallist Denmark, the current Youth Olympic Games gold medallist.

In group A in Podgorica defending world champions Sweden and Hungary proved their dominance from the first match on. Sweden qualified as first of all teams for the quarterfinals, but then lost the top duel against Hungary clearly 21:13 to finish second behind the unbeaten Magyars, who only gave one point from their hands in a draw against the Netherlands. Ahead of Croatia the Dutch team ranked third in the end after another tie in the direct duel. Paraguay were chanceless against the European power and finished on bottom without any point on their account.

In group B in Bar European champions Russia topped their opponents clearly and are supposed to be the top favorite for their next gold medal. Thanks to an outstanding movable defense, strong and tall back court shooters, needle-pin counter-attacks and inspiring playmakers they are one step ahead of their contenders. Russia won all four matches in a sovereign manner, including the top gun’s duel against Romania after an incredible second half 37:27. The Romanians, seventh ranked teams at the 2011 Euro, still have high hopes and aim for the final against Russia, but first they face their neighbors from Hungary in the quarterfinal. After the Olympic success of their women’s team, host Montenegro hoped for a quarterfinal spot, but was too weak against their top opponents despite a strong match against Romania. Nearly they let the third rank slip from their hands after being below 55 minutes against DR Congo, but in the end they sealed the deal. Kazakhstan (with only eight players) and DR Congo were out of reach and tied in the direct duel. Thanks to the better goal difference, the Kazakhs fight for the places 13-16, while DR Congo play in the 17-20 ranking round from Thursday on.

In group C in Podgorica Denmark and France clearly topped the table with three opening victories. After a thrilling tie in the direct duel with Denmark scoring the equalizer five seconds before the end, the Scandinavians took the first rank and will face Japan, as France has the clearly higher hurdle to pass in European bronze medallist Norway. Korea finished third, but were clearly below the top duo, as the Czech Republic and Uruguay only had one point each on their account – after the draw in the direct duel.

In group D in Bar Norway was as dominant as Russia in group B. The Scandinavians only had easy-going walks against their intercontinental opponents. Like their women’s team in London, the youngsters counted on the same tactics: strong defense, interceptions, counter-attacks, goals. None of their opponents did have any means to stop their express mode. Japan and Brazil fought hard for the second place, but as the Asians had won the direct encounter on match day one, the Pan Americans were in the hunter’s position – but could not catch-up in the end, ranking third in the final ranking. African champions Angola were close to beat Brazil, but then lacked power and international experience to reach a better result than rank four ahead of Portugal, finishing without any point on their account.

The quarterfinals and first matches of the placement rounds will be played on Thursday, followed by a rest day for the quarterfinalist and the final day of the placement rounds 9-20. On Saturday 25 August the semifinals will be played in Bar, same as the placement round 5-8. On Sunday 26 August the placement matches 7/8 and 5/6, the bronze final and the final will take place in Bar.