Poland has put itself in a position to win its first ever men’s canoe polo World Championship medal after scraping into this weekend’s U21 finals at Welland, Canada.

Poland lost its final qualifying match against Germany, who finished top of the group, but managed to progress to Saturday’s semi-finals on goal difference.

“It was hard, but we did it,” Polish captain Dawid Jaloszynski said.

“I was really nervous. I think it’s possible to do better. I hope we can win the gold.”

Great Britain finished top of the second group, with Italy confirming it’s place in the final four with a solid win over Denmark in the last match of the day.

Italian captain Paolo Zifferero said the team had to rebuild after losing several players earlier in 2018.

“This is a wonderful result for us, because we had to start again as a squad at the beginning of this year,” Italian captain Paolo Zifferero said.

“It’s really a huge result for us to be here and play semi-finals. You always have to aim for the top, but our first matches were not so good.

“Not good enough we thought to make the finals, but here we are.”

One of the big surprises is the absence of France in the women’s U21 semi-finals. The two-time silver medallists finished third in their pool and will now play off for fifth on Saturday.

Germany, chasing a fourth consecutive U21 title, will take on Great Britain in one semi-final. The only game the Germans lost in qualifying was against France, and they beat Great Britain 7-2 in their pool match.

In the other semi, Poland will take on New Zealand. The Poles are also undefeated, having notched up a 3-3 draw against Germany and a 4-4 draw against Netherlands.

They beat New Zealand 6-5 in a pool match thriller.

There are still several second-round matches to be played in the men’s and women’s senior competition ahead of Sunday’s finals, with Italy, Germany and Spain looking strong in the men’s competition, and Germany, Great Britain and Italy showing the way in the women’s.

German women’s captain, Elena Gilles, said her team is playing good all-round canoe polo.

“We’ve been winning by quite a lot, and not just winning, we are also playing very disciplined and we are playing the tactics we had planned, so I’m really happy with the way we are going,” Gilles said.

“Everyone expects us to do well, we want to win as well, so we are happy to take on the expectations. Of course there’s improvement to come.”

Saturday will see the U21 medallists decided at Welland.

2018 ICF Canoe Polo World Championships Welland Canada

Canoe Polo