The Netherlands reclaimed the World Champions title in Fukuoka, marking their first win since 1991. However, achieving victory was no simple task. Defending their title poses an equally formidable challenge. Evangelos Doudesis, head coach of the Dutch women's water polo team, shared that while they celebrated their triumph in Fukuoka, their focus swiftly shifted towards the future.

For the Netherlands, 32 Years Between Their Two World Championship Titles

Image Source: Netherlands celebrate winning gold in the Women's Water Polo Gold Medal match between the Netherlands and Spain (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

As Doudesis expressed, “It was a very important moment in the Dutch water polo history; after 32 years we were able to bring victory from the World Championships home. It really was an outstanding and special moment for everyone who is involved in the process of this team.”

Regarding their aspirations in Doha's World Championships, Doudesis stated, “Last summer was quite successful for us; our goal in Doha is clear. Both tournaments, Europeans and Worlds for us are part of the process. It allows us to compete against the best in the world and prepare for the Olympics.”

Dutch & Hungarian Preparation for the Doha Worlds? It's On.

Image Source: Catharyn Hayne/World Aquatics

The Netherlands team kicked off their training regimen on December 4th. Evangelos Doudesis and his squad face an intense start to the year, with January marking their participation in the European Championships in Eindhoven, hosted in their home pool. Undoubtedly, they aim to deliver their finest performance in front of their Dutch supporters. However, the question of whether they will field their strongest team in Doha remains uncertain, with Doudesis cryptically stating, 'We will see.'

Meanwhile, following their triumph in the men's tournament at Fukuoka, Hungary maintained an unwavering pace. Post-World Championships, they swiftly returned to Hungary, celebrated with fans, and immediately resumed training. Zsolt Varga initiated training sessions with an expanded national team, inclusive of World Champion U20 players."

Zsolt Says | 'We take each world tournament seriously.'

Image Source: Hungary's Gergo János Fekete celebrates the team's last-second Semifinal victory over Spain in Fukuoka (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Hungarian men's water polo national team coach Zsolt Varga emphasizes, “I truly believe that nobody wants to have a bad result in a World Aquatics Championships. We need to show and do our best on the maximum level - both in will and preparedness.

"This season is quite dense for the players, and it is important not to burn them out. This does not mean that we are taking these challenges neglectfully, especially now, that we are the defending champions. Honestly, we feel a kind of pressure that another world championship is just around the corner, and we need to perform our best in each game and prove that our title is well-deserved.” 

Image Source: Hungary's Zsolt Varga coaching the men's team in the Fukuoka 2023 preliminaries (Aniko Kovacs/World Aquatics)

When asked about the European Championships, Zsolt let on this thinking about the team's composition for the tournament, saying, "There will be some changes in the line-up since I don't want to burn the players out. We plan to go to the European Championships with younger players in addition to the reigning World Champions."

Hungary Aims High | The Goal? Another World Championship Victory in Doha.

Image Source: Soma Vogel (R) and the rest of Team Hungary celebrates World Champs gold in Fukuoka (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

“Every single team wants to win against us – I feel nowadays it’s a kind of a prestige to win against the Magyars,” remarked Zsolt Varga, an immensely driven head coach known for consistently pushing his team to their limits.

“Every team aims to triumph over their opponents. Winning a gold medal is always a reflection of the current situation but we cannot take it for granted. This is what sport is all about - we need to prove that we are the best day by day. And we will do our best in Doha.”