Six teams have gathered in Duisburg, Germany to contest the final spot for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, to be held later this year. After more than a year without international competition it’s anyone’s guess who will be favourite. On Tuesday the first pool matches will be played, the final quest towards a ticket to Tokyo promises to be an exciting one.
The six competing teams are:
The first two days are dedicated for pool play, both pools will be played according to the Round Robin format, in which each team plays the other once. After this pool is played, the teams that have ended in third place will switch pools and play both teams in the other pool. The four best ranked teams after those matches will meet on Friday in the semifinals. Saturday is reserved for the matches for fifth place and the medal matches. The final match at 16.00 CEST will decide which team qualifies for Tokyo. Check here for the full schedule.
The six teams involved might well be very competitive. That’s the consensus at the eve of the tournament. As Gregory Walker, Head Coach of Team USA put it: “I can’t say there’s an outright favourite. I’d like to think that everyone’s got a chance here.”
This view is shared by Serhiy Ovcharuk, Assistant Coach of Ukraine: “There is no clear favourite, because all the teams have their strongest teams here. Everybody has really high chances. Everyone has strong players, but the strongest will win. We hope it will be Ukraine.”
Other teams are more outspoken, like Kazakhstan’s Head Coach Bauyrzhan Takhauov. He stated: “We are expecting to win. We think we are favourite.”
This sentiment can be heard with the other teams as well. Croatian Captain Ivan Cosic mentioned it in his remarks. “The hosts Germany are favourites, together with Ukraine and Kazakhstan. And of course Croatia, we will never give up.”
The three teams he mentioned are the same that Germany’s Assistant Coach Ralf Peter Lenz had on his list. “One of three teams is favourite, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Germany. We expect to get the last ticket to Tokyo, at least, it is a wish.”
Team Canada are very glad to be back on the international stage, because the hiatus caused by Covid has been very challenging. “We are excited to be playing at the highest level again. Our expectations are to come out and do what we have been trying to accomplish the last four years, and that is to qualify for Tokyo. I’d like to say that team Canada are favorite, but obviously there’s heavy competition throughout. That’s how sport goes, everyone will have an opportunity to win here.”
All matches will be live streamed on Sportdeutschland.tv. Tuesday will start at 9.30 CEST with the opening ceremony, followed by the first match between Germany and Canada. You can follow all the latest updates of the 2020 Tokyo men’s qualifying tournament here.