2007 World Championships Groups Drawn
Division One Champions Great Britain Drawn with rivals Japan, South Africa and Namibia
Less than four months after winning the gold medal in Division One of the International Ice Hockey Federation's In-Line World Championships, planning is already well underway for the defence of the title and promotion push in 2007.
The IIHF have announced the groupings and schedule of the 2007 tournament to be held in Landschut and Passau , Germany from 26 th May to the 3 rd of June 2007 .
As first seeds in Division One, GB will enjoy the comforts of the city of Passau where they will compete for promotion / playoff position with Japan , Namibia and South Africa.
After a round robin the top placed team will play the bottom placed team from the elite group of USA , Germany , Czech Republic and Austria with the winner remaining in the elite pool and the loser traveling to the town of Landschut for the remainder of the Division One playoffs.
GB open their campaign on Sunday 27 th of May with a game against South Africa, a team previously beaten 16-1 by Britain in 2003's tournament in their only previous encounter against the 2007 qualifiers.
On Monday 28 th they take on Namibia , whom they faced for the first time in the opening game of the 2006 tournament where GB battled to a 3-2 win.
In their third and final group game on Tuesday 29 th of May GB take on old rivals Japan , a side the British have seen plenty of in recent years. In 2004 GB beat Japan twice on their way to the gold medal in Bad Tolz, Germany . In 2005 in Kuopio Finland , Japan turned the tables and defeated GB in the semifinals of the world tournament but in 2006 GB beat the Japanese in the group stage to leave the all time standings between the two at 3-1 in favor of the British. However Japan have a strong history in the inline world championships and are ranked tenth all time against Britain 's 14 th .
GB has the better recent pedigree having won Division One gold medals in 2004 and 2006 and bronze in 2005. Japan won gold in 2003 in Nuremberg , silver in 2005 and bronze in 2004 with fourth in the 2006 tournament.
Great Britain Player Coach Andrew Sillitoe is confident GB will compete for medals again in 2007.
"The Japanese are a very fast, very skilled team and they will do well in Germany . Brazil and Hungary are also very strong but I believe we have what it takes to compete for a medal".
Asked if GB can achieve what they have missed out on in previous years: promotion to the elite group, Sillitoe remains ambitious, "I think if you look at how we have improved as a team in recent years we do have a chance of promotion. We need to look at ourselves, the talent we have and think about where we should be in this game.
"Talent alone will not get us promoted, it'll take a lot of hard work and good fortune but we should not rule that out as an objective."
Further news will be released shortly regarding GB trial dates as well as an all new GB team website. Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are once again available for this year's tournament and interested parties should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The schedule for the 2007 IIHF In-Line World Championships is now available on the tournament website at http://www.inlinehockey-wcs.com