HOSTS Bahrain have been drawn in a tough Pool ‘A’ for the first round of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship 2019.
The other nations in their group are China, Morocco and Puerto Rico.
The prestigious global competition is scheduled to take place from July 18 to 27 at the Bahrain Volleyball Association (BVA) arenas in Shaikh Isa Sports City in Riffa.
It is set to be held under the patronage of His Majesty the King’s Charity Works and Youth Affairs representative and Supreme Council for Youth and Sports president Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Bahrain’s junior national team are coming off a highly competitive qualifying tournament where they won a berth for next month’s Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship.
It is understood that virtually the entire team who played in the qualifiers will also be suiting up for the world championships. The squad is coached by Bahraini tactician Yousuf Khalifa.
Sixteen countries representing five confederations under the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) are taking part. These under-21 national teams have been divided into four groups of four for the opening stage.
Pool ‘B’ includes Cuba, Argentina, Egypt and South Korea; while Pool ‘C’ features Russia, Iran, the Czech Republic and Tunisia. The field is completed by Group ‘D’, which consists of Italy, Canada, Brazil and defending champions Poland.
Following the completion of the first round, the top two teams from each pool will be split into two further pools of four (Pools ‘E’ and ‘F’), with the bottom two teams from the first round also divided into two pools of four (Pools ‘G’ and ‘H’).
After another round of play, the top two teams from Pools ‘E’ and ‘F’ will qualify for the semi-finals and finals, with the bottom two facing off in a playoff to be classified from fifth to eighth.
The winners from Pools ‘G’ and ‘H’ will have a playoff for the ninth to 12th classification, with the bottom two teams from the same pools moving onto a playoff for 13th to 16th.
This year’s under-21 world championship is the 20th edition of the competition.
Bahrain is hosting the event for the third time in its history. The kingdom previously also hosted in 1987 and 1997, when South Korea and Poland were crowned champions, respectively.
Bahrain are playing in the tournament for the fourth time. Aside from the years they hosted, the nationals also competed in 1989 when they event was held in Greece.
Bahrain’s best finish was eighth in 1987. In the 1989 tournament, they were classified 16th, while in 1997, they improved to ninth overall.
The tournament’s previous edition in 2017 took place in the Czech Republic. Poland were champions after beating Cuba in the final. Russia were third and Brazil fourth.