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Hard Olympic water polo draw for hosts China
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Hosts China have been dealt a tough draw for the Olympic water polo tournament.

Their men's team will face world champion Croatia, World League champion Serbia, qualification tournament winner Germany and runner-up Italy, as well as world No. 9 the United States, while their women's side is pitted against World and World League champion U.S., Olympic champion Italy, European champion Russia.

The men's Group A contains 2000 and 2004 gold medallist Hungary, European qualifier and hot favorite Montenegro, world No.3 Spain and No.6 Greece, Australia as well as Canada, who upset Romania for the final berth at the recent qualification tournament.

Chinese men's head coach Wang Minhui, who attended the draw, said their future looked groomy.

"Our group is the Group of Death," said Wang. "For us, every game at the Olympic Games will be very stern."

The women's tournament draws was also made in Beijing on Saturday with the World Cup champion Aussie seeded alongside 2004 Olympic silver medallist Greece, who gained the final spot for this years event, European qualifier the Netherlands and 2005 world champion Hungary.

Pan Shenghua, the head coach of China's women's team, echoed Wang's thoughts.

"It's a tough draw, but we just want to play to the best of our ability," said Pan.

The Chinese teams are both currently competing in the Olympic test event, the Good Luck China Open, at the Yingdong Natatorium in Beijing.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 23, 2008)

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