Six continents, seven countries, one tournament. That’s the basic definition of the international Intercontinental Cup, that will take place in Prague this summer. We can look forward to the best teams from all continents. Who’s coming to Prague?
The Hosts – Czech men’s national team – will face New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, USA, Denmark and Botswana.
The football world calls this kind of event the FIFA Confederations cup and it is always hosted by the FIFA World Cup hosting country one year before the main event. Each continent is represented by one country. Mostly. And this cup is based on a similar principle. This way Prague will try to organize a big tournament one year prior the biggest one.
So, who is going to play in Prague? Hosts of course – the Czech Republic. One of the strongest European sides with back-to-back-to-back titles. The Czechs reached gold in 2012, 2014 and 2016. This summer in Havlíčkův Brod they will try to go for a fourth one in the row. Can they make it done?
Representing Europe, there will also be team Denmark. Usually, they stand for the strongest competitor to Czechs, they are regularly successful at the European Championships and in 2010, they even took home gold medals. On last two occasions, it was silver for Denmark led by strong generation of Terkelsen brothers and pitcher Kim Hansen.
From Oceania, the best of the best are coming – team New Zealand. Black Sox are multiple World Champions and no. 1 in the world rankings. Since 1980 they didn’t finish worse than second at the Worlds and last time in Whitehorse, Canada, they won their record seventh gold medal. In Prague they will be one of main favorites and it’s expected of them to fight for 1st place. Names like Rona or Enoka draw attention everywhere around the globe.
Asia sends Japan. Third ranked team in the world at the moment. However, last time they finished just a bit short of medal battles on fifth place. The Japanese would like to make up for it in Prague and present themselves in good light. Czech capital won’t be anything new for them, they already attended two World Championships held in Prague before. One of their best results is silver medal from 2000 tournament. Now they can build on the success of their juniors’ team, that won the 2016 championships.
Argentina is coming to represent South America, currently no. 4 in the world. They finished 4th also at the last World Championships. Just like Japan, Argentina also cherish from their good work with youth teams. They won the Junior Championship in 2012 and 2014. They still wait for their first world medal among men and players like Mata, Godoy or Montero will want to change that for sure.
Canada will miss due to date collision with their national championship, so they will be replaced by team USA, currently ranked no. 6 worldwide and 6th best team of the last World Championship. Team around pitcher Jeremy Manley has several historic titles including those from first tournaments in 1966 and 1968. Now they wait for a world medal since 2000 and their last bronze. They already competed in Prague at the World Cup in 2007.
Africa will send team Botswana (#12 in world rankings) that surprised at the last year World Championship with its pitching qualities. Botswana is one of softball leader in Africa for a long time. Last time at the Worlds they finished 8th, just one spot above the Czech Republic.
The Intercontinental Cup with teams from six continents will take place at Joudrs ball park in Prague from 28th of August to 1st of September.