During the first round of the 2017 World Championship, the fifteen group C matches will be played in Rouen’s Kindarena, from 13 to 20 January. Six nations will fight for the four qualifiying spots for the eighth-finals.
Winner of the 2016 European Championship and bronze medalist at the Rio Olympic Games, Germany appears to be the frontrunner of group C. Several important players are out on injury, but the Nationalmannschaft will anyway present a very competitive team, in which the spearheads will be left winger Uwe Gensheimer, right back Kai Häfner, right winger Patrick Groetzki and the pair of goalkeepers Silvio Heinevetter and Andreas Wolff.
Croatia and Hungary on the lookout
Germany will aim for group C’s first spot, but shall watch out for unpredictable Croatia, which is able to beat almost every opponent. Before losing to Poland in the Olympics quarter final, the Croatian team thus defeated Denmark and France, the two eventual finalists, in the first round in Rio. Star centre back Domagoj Duvnjak will be a major asset for the Croatian side, along with left winger Manuel Strlek and left back Ivan Sliskovic.
Hungary will also have its say in group C. The Magyar team didn’t play 2015 World Championship, after reaching the quarter finals of the three previous editions, and will therefore be looking for revenge. Spanish head coach Xavi Sabate will rely on some experienced players, such as right back Laszlo Nagy, goalkeeper Roland Mikler or line player Timuzsin Schuch.
Three teams for one spot ?
Deprived of its star Siarhei Rutenka, who is injured, Belarus will nevertheless aim for a qualifying spot in group C, which seems pretty conceivable. With a combination of talented young players, like the 20 year-old line payer Artsem Karalek, and some more established players, like the centre back Barys Pukhouski, the team coached by Yuri Shevtsov may be a surprise to some.
Fast growing Chile can also dream of reaching the eighth finals, which would be a first for the 2016 Panamerican Championship runner up. The Chilean team will be relying heavily on right back Rodrigo Salinas and on the three Feuchtmann brothers, especially left back Erwin and centre back Emil.
Qualified for the World Championship thanks to its fourth place at the 2016 Asian Championship, Saudi Arabia hopes to be able to spoil the party in group C, in the wake of their star, left back Mohammed Al-Zaer, and, why not, qualify for their first ever World Championship eighth-final.
Group C complete schedule :
Belarus – Chile (13 janvier, 14h)
Germany – Hungary (13 janvier, 17h45)
Croatia – Saudi Arabia (13 janvier, 20h45)
Hungary – Croatia (14 janvier, 20h45)
Chile – Germany (15 janvier, 14h45)
Saudi Arabia– Belarus (15 janvier, 20h45)
Hungary– Chile (16 janvier, 17h45)
Croatia – Belarus (16 janvier, 20h45)
Germany – Saudi Arabia (17 janvier, 17h45)
Saudi Arabia– Hungary (18 janvier, 14h)
Belarus– Germany (18 janvier, 17h45)
Croatia – Chile (18 janvier, 20h45)
Chile – Saudi Arabia (20 janvier, 14h)
Germany – Croatia (20 janvier, 17h45)
Belarus– Hungary (20 janvier, 20h45)