Tehran, Iran, August 22 - Defending champions Brazil, hosts Iran, Russia and Italy will be the favorites, according to most of the coaches, to win the 12th edition of the Men's Under 21 World Championship, once it starts on Saturday in the Azadi Sports Centre in the Iranian capital, Tehran.
In one of the strongest ever competitions for junior teams, the 16 teams will be characterized by the presence of many emerging talents in the different continents like Egypt, which achieved a fourth place finish in the Boys' Under 19 World Championship in Cairo two years ago, India, the Asian runner's up and Slovakia.
This championship also includes plenty of stars as many senior teams, like Brazil, Russia and Iran, depend on the under age group level for their future heroes.
Unfortunately for Russia they will be missing two of their stars due to injury. "Unfortunately we will lose two of our most experienced players, Daniel ov and Volkov," said Russian coach Tsvetinov Sergaei. "Both were with the senior national team in the World League but they are injured now due to the great effort they did with the national team and their clubs."
Three important Italian players Broski, Guemart and Gurise will also be absent due to injuries, annoying the Italian coach Roberto Santilli due to the short period of preparation time for his new players. Italy face a tough first up match on the opening day against Serbia-Montenegro in Pool D.
The sixteen teams participating in the competition are divided into four Pools where they will play a round robin. The fourth placed team in each pool will leave the competition while the first three will qualify for the play-off round. The teams ranked first in their Preliminary Pools will play in the play-off seeding group, while the teams ranked second and third will compete in the Play-off elimination group so as to determine four teams out of eight to qualify for the quarterfinals with the four teams ranked first in the preliminary pools.
In preliminary Pool A, Asian champions Iran is expected to be too strong for African champions Egypt, the second South American Qualifier Venezuela, and the third Asian qualifiers South Korea.
In Pool B, Russia will be the favorite to lead with strong competition between the second Asian champions India, the emerging team of China and the last European qualifiers Germany.
In Pool C, the defending champion and South American hero Brazil is the favorite to lead the group with the African vice champions Tunisia, the fifth European qualifiers Poland and NORCECA champion Canada to compete for the other places.
In Pool D, four European teams will compete in what is called the strongest pool in the competition. The European champion Italy are considered favorites despite missing three key players while Slovakia, Serbia Montenegro and Bulgaria are expected to battle it out for the other places.