After some last-minute heart palpitations, the top 12 for the men’s competition at the ICF Canoe Polo World Championships was determined on Thursday morning, and by days end it was the usual suspects who look in prime medal positions.

Portugal fired a winner with just 15 seconds left in the match to progress to the top 12, and in the process broke the hearts of a Japanese team who had led 2-0 for much of the match.

And then moments later it was the turn of Chinese Taipei, this time snuffing out the dreams of USA with a last-minute equalizer that booked their passage into the top 12.

With the top dozen determined, the big-name teams started to step up their campaigns. Germany, chasing back-to-back world titles and facing a potential danger game against European Cup winners Denmark, looked at ease disposing the Danes 5-1.

He said the confidence his team picked up in winning The World Games title in Alabama last month has carried through to St-Omer.

5-1 against Denmark is a pretty good result I think, we saw they have really improved, they won the first ECA Cup against us in the final, so we really wanted to beat them now, German captain Jonas Vieren said.

Now the tournament really starts, and now every match will be close and hard. We really need to fight. This was the first match where we could prove ourselves and I think we did quite well.

The team found their game, and now we can continue in this tournament, so it’s good to start it from the beginning.”

Spain, bronze medalists from Birmingham, loom as the major threats to a second German world crown. The Spaniards are yet to lose a match in St-Omer, and proved their resilience with a hard-fought win against Poland 4-2.

We knew that Poland had a draw against France so they are a very strong team, and they showed us they are a very strong team,” Spanish captain Angel Gordo Herrero said.

For us Birmingham was a step in our development. Obviously we were so happy to get a medal at The World Games, but we know that a race here for the medal here is much harder. We have a very strong group, every team is a high level team.

We have a balanced team. We are strong in defence, but obviously we always want to be stronger in defence, but we are happy with the result.”

Italy and The Netherlands are the remaining two teams yet to lose a match in the men’s competition this week.

Pics by Balint Vekassy

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