World Men's WP Development Trophy: Kuwait shines at home

If two years ago the first edition of the FINA World Men’s Water Polo Development Trophy was dominated by the American teams – Colombia won the tournament, while Puerto Rico got the silver - the 2009 edition of the competition was marked by Asian supremacy. In the final of the event – held once more in Kuwait City (KUW) from April 5-11 - the home team conquered the gold, defeating in the decisive game the squad of Singapore by 13-6. It was a natural outcome given the progression of the tournament, in which the two teams won all the five matches of the preliminary rounds (Kuwait was included in Group A with Trinidad & Tobago, Algeria, Indonesia, Guatemala and Tunisia and Singapore was the best in Group B, against Philippines, Morocco, Uruguay, Jamaica and Kenya).

For the bronze, Trinidad & Tobago (three wins, one tie and one loss in the preliminaries) played against Philippines (also 3-1-1 in the groups’ phase) and won the game by a tight 8-7. The remaining two teams with a positive outcome from the preliminaries (more victories than losses), Algeria and Morocco, played for places 5-6 and Morocco was superior (6-4).

Places 7-12 were played by the six squads classified at the bottom of the groups in the preliminary round and the only “minor” surprise was the victory (14-10) of Uruguay over Indonesia for the 7-8 placement; in the groups’ stage, Uruguay had only two wins, while Indonesia obtained two triumphs and one tie. Guatemala and Jamaica (four losses, one win) played for places 9-10, with the “reggae” team winning by 8-6. The last two places (11-12) were contested by the weakest teams of the tournament, Tunisia and Kenya – without surprises, Tunisia was better, imposing a clear win over the Kenyans by 34-3.

BRONZE MEDAL GAME: Trinidad & Tobago 8 – Philippines 7
(4-3, 1-1, 1-1, 2-2)
In the bronze medal game, Trinidad and Tobago was put on the map of developing Water Polo nations by their superb performance at the FINA Development Trophy. TRI edged Philippines 8 - 7 to claim the minor position on the podium. Both the team and their supporters were thrilled with this victory in Kuwait.

The game started, and, as had happened in every game of the tournament TRI gave up an early goal. But then the defence settled and started holding the Philippines at bay. At the 6:10 mark Christopher George (TRI) made no mistake on a foul shot to make it 1-1. Less than a minute later, a streaking Christian Flook (TRI) powered away from his defender and clinically beat the goalie; 2-1. 

While the defence held firm, chances were missed as Kristian Bocage shot over and John-Stanley Littlepage went for an open shot but was denied by the keeper. With 1:45 to go in the period a rapid exchange of strikes took place following a great save by Gregory Joseph (TRI), but the rebound was lost and put back in over the middle as Philippines scored to make it 2-2. Immediately George (Christopher) buried the ball into the back of the net on a foul-and-shoot making it 3-2 at the 1:25 mark. With 1:00 minute left, the Philippines nicely levelled the score at 3-3. Then with just 30 seconds George (Christopher) made it impossible for the keeper with a shot through the roof of the net. Thus it was 4-3 at the end of the period.

In the second period Philippines continued grinding away with organised play in both directions, but Coach James Robertson’s defense kept back the assault. But scoring for TRI was halted and on a TRI exclusion the Philippines made it an even 4-4. At 1:36 Robertson called a ‘time-out’ to set up their offense. TRI proceeded to patiently pass the ball around eight times before George (M) passed over the middle to Bocage who hammered one home for a 5-4 score at the half.

In the second half 3:13 passed before Philippines scored again to tie it at 5-5. As the period wound down George (C) drew a penalty as he was hacked down on his way to goal. George (M) then put the ball in off the post to put TRI back ahead with 6-5.

The fourth period meant eight gruelling minutes stood between TRI and a bronze medal; eight minutes that could not have started more disastrously for the Polo Warriors when 22 seconds after the start Philippines made it even again at 6-6. Thirty seconds later, Philippines were ahead by 6-7. TRI answered and at the 6:00 mark they levelled the score for the seventh time in the game: 7-7. Time was running out as both teams tried to finish the job. Then with just 4:40 to go,  when it already looked like TRI were bereft of scoring options, Christopher ‘Atlas’ George, with everything he had left, took a quick outlet pass, out swam his man and powered home the eventual game winner; 8-7.

Individual success also came Trinidad and Tobago’s way in the form of the Most Valuable Player Award, which went to Christopher George.

Trinidad and Tobago: Gregory Joseph, Andrew Francis, Christopher George (5), Matthew George (1), Christopher Vidale, Mattheaus Otero, Christian Flook (1), Kristian Bocage (1), John Littlepage, Eoghan Miller, Aaron Rodriguez, Ian Welch-Phillips
Philippines: Tani Gomez, Sherwin Delapuz (1), Almax Laurel (1), Jasper Ony, Juancho Abejo (1), Raphael Grebador, Elrid Evangeusta, Ronald Guiriba, Norton Alamara (1), Frazier Alamara (1), Dave Evangelista (2), Dexter Alamara, Kristopher Delacruz

FINAL GAME: Kuwait 13 – Singapore 6
(3-0, 3-1, 1-3, 6-2)
In this final, gold and silver medal game, the host Kuwait, which has evidently been the strongest team throughout the tournament, went out to take an early lead and snuffed out the one rally Singapore managed midway through the game to win 13-6 in the end.

Kuwait took a 3-0 lead after the first period and held-strong, giving few chances to the Singapore side. In fact, Singapore didn’t get on the scoreboard until the middle of the second quarter. After the halftime pause, the Singaporeans seemed to have collected themselves and netted three in the third period for Kuwait’s one. However, this rally would be short-lived.

In the final quarter Singapore managed to put in two more for good measure, but it couldn’t compare to the six goals generated by Kuwait, which powered home to sweep the tournament in front of a home crowd.

Kuwait: Mohammed Mulla, Nowat Al Otaibi (3), Ahmed Mohamed, Nawaf Al Asamauri (1), Sulaimon Alenaizi (1), Jusem Al Safran, Youseef Al Tawhid, Jasem Al Salem (1), Adnon Khan (6), Ahmed Baron, Fahad Malallah (1), Ali Esmaeid, Talal Al Otaibi
Singapore: Nigel Tay, Chuan Foo (1), Laihua Loh, Eugene Teo, Shawn Ong, Paul Louis Tan (2), Alvin Kok Lee (2), Nan Luo (1), Yao Xiang Lim, Maximilian Tay, Diyan Lin, Benjamin Tan, Andy Chin

Preliminary Round

GROUP A


KUW

TUN

GUA

TRI

INA

ALG

M

W

T

L

Dif.

P

KUW

-

17-3

17-2

15-6

18-7

16-8

5

5

-

-

83-26

10

TRI

6-15

5-2

12-5

-

12-12

12-4

5

3

1

1

47-38

7

ALG

8-16

13-5

12-6

4-12

9-8

-

5

3

-

2

46-47

6

INA

7-18

12-9

9-7

12-12

-

8-9

5

2

1

2

48-55

5

GUA

2-17

12-7

-

5-12

7-9

6-12

5

1

-

4

32-57

2

TUN

3-17

-

7-12

2-5

9-12

5-13

5

-

-

5

26-59

0


GROUP B


MAR

PHI

KEN

URU

JAM

SIN

M

W

T

L

Dif.

P

SIN

16-2

12-11

14-9

16-6

12-9

-

5

5

-

-

70-37

10

PHI

6-6

-

41-2

7-5

9-7

11-12

5

3

1

1

74-32

7

MAR

-

6-6

45-0

8-7

9-8

2-16

5

3

1

1

70-37

7

URU

7-8

5-7

26-0

-

12-5

6-16

5

2

-

3

56-36

4

JAM

8-9

7-9

28-0

5-12

-

9-12

5

1

-

4

57-42

2

KEN

0-45

2-41

-

0-26

0-28

9-14

5

-

-

5

11-154

0


Final Round
TUN-KEN      34-3 (places 11-12)
GUA-JAM     6-8 (places 9-10)
INA-URU      10-14 (places 7-8)
ALG-MAR     4-6 (places 5-6)
TRI-PHI         8-7 (places 3-4)
KUW-SIN      13-6 (places 1-2)

Final Ranking
1. Kuwait
2. Singapore
3. Trinidad & Tobago
4. Philippines
5. Morocco
6. Algeria
7. Uruguay
8. Indonesia
9. Jamaica
10. Guatemala
11. Tunisia
12. Kenya

Composition of the medalled teams
1 – KUWAIT
- Mohammed Mulla, Nowat Al Otaibi, Ahmed Mohamed, Nawaf Al Asamauri, Sulaimon Alenaizi, Jusem Al Safran, Youseef Al Tawhid, Jasem Al Salem, Adnon Khan, Ahmed Baron, Fahad Malallah, Ali Esmaeid, Talal Al Otaibi

2- SINGAPORE - Nigel Tay, Chuan Foo, Laihua Loh, Eugene Teo, Shawn Ong, Paul Louis Tan, Alvin Kok Lee, Nan Luo, Yao Xiang Lim, Maximilian Tay, Diyan Lin, Benjamin Tan, Andy Chin

3 – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - Gregory Joseph, Andrew Francis, Christopher George, Matthew George, Christopher Vidale, Mattheaus Otero, Christian Flook, Kristian Bocage, John Littlepage, Eoghan Miller, Aaron Rodriguez, Ian Welch-Phillips