Romania heads Greece in see-sawing encounter

London 2012 Water Polo

Edmonton (April 2) - Romania set its sights firmly on a trip to London after a scintillating 10-9 victory over Greece on day two of the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament for men at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here today. In the “Group of Death” — Group A — Romania made up for a first-day loss while Greece has a first loss after a big start on day one.

The thriller saw both teams take the lead four times. The match was levelled at 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 with the winning goal coming just inside the final three minutes. It was edge-of-your-seat stuff with the over-productive Cosmin RADU claiming four goals for the Romanians and Christos AFROUDAKIS with three for the Greeks. The real story will unfold on quarter-final day on Friday but this was edgy play, high-powered and just the sort of action both teams crave in Olympic year.

The group also saw Montenegro steam to a 7-1 lead over Germany before finishing 11-7. Montenegro had all the big shots and pleased the small Monday crowd. The third clash saw the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia upset the Netherlands 9-6 from the front. Their European Championship match in January had the Netherlands two up.

Group B had Spain collect a second win, shunting aside Argentina 14-6. Spain led 7-1 deep into the second quarter. In the final game of the day, Canada debuted after a first-round bye forced by the late withdrawal of Venezuela, defeating Brazil 12-9. Canada pummelled Brazil with a 6-2 third period that proved the difference.

Match Reports:

Game 8: 14:20, Group B, ARGENTINA 6 SPAIN 14
Quarters: 1-5, 1-2, 3-2, 1-5
Referees: Nikolaos VASILEIOU (GRE), Risto DAMCEVSKI (MKD)
Extra Man: ARG: 2/5. ESP: 3/6
ARGENTINA: Hernan MAZZINI, Ramiro VEICH (1), Juan MONTANE, Brian CARABANTES, Emanuel LOPEZ, Ignacio ECHENIQUE, Fernando ARREGUI, Gonzalo ECHENIQUE (2), Ivan CARABANTES (1), Ramiro GIL, Franco DEMARCHI, German YANEZ (2), Franco TESTA. Head Coach: Nahuel ALFONSO.
SPAIN: Inaki AGUILAR, Mario GARCIA (1), Oscar CARRILLO (1), Balazs SZIRANYI, Guillermo MOLINA, Marc MINGUELL (2), Ivan GALLEGO, Albert ESPANOL (1), Blai MALLARACH (2), Felipe PERRONE (2), Ivan PEREZ (2), Xavier GARCIA (3), Daniel LOPEZ. Head Coach: Rafael AGUILAR.

Spain collected a second comfortable victory en route to the quarter-finals while Argentina suffered a first loss following the opening day’s draw with Turkey. It looked bad for Argentina as Spain went 3-0 up and then 5-12 by the break. This was extended to 7-1 before the Argentines started a late response, especially with such an array of ballistic shots from the perimeter. Only PEREZ was a double scorer at this stage. Then Gonzalo ECHENIQUE awoke his team with a screamer from seven metres. YANEZ followed after a timeout ploy on extra-man advantage for 7-3. MINGUELL and Xavia GARCIA responded with their second goals for 9-3 but Argentina was not out of the picture. VEICH sent in a slider from nine metres, Sunday star CARABANTES closed the third period for 9-5. Gonzalo ECHINIQUE closed the gap to 9-6 on extra at the top of the fourth period. Spain needed to show some authority and it came with a flourish of excellent goals — Xavier GARCIA on extra; MALLARACH from nine metres; PERRONE on a cross pass close in and then on counter; followed by ESPANOL from seven metres. It was a game of long shots and excellent Spanish defence. If Argentina had arrived to play the game much earlier, the result could have been much different.

Spain vs Argentina - credit: Russell McKinnon

Xavier GARCIA (ESP) — three goals, on the team’s mindset entering the match: “We started the game without knowing very much about Argentina, but the most important thing is that we play well enough to win in the quarter finals.” On being very interested in the matches taking place in Group A: “We are watching the other group every game because it is a very hard group with teams that we know a lot about because they’re all European teams.”

Ramiro VEICH (ARG) — goal scorer, on facing a tough opponent after a disappointing first match: “We did the best we could against a tough opponent…after yesterday’s tie with Turkey, we felt we could play much better.” On preparing to play Brazil on Tuesday: “It’s like a final. Our teams are very tight. For us, it’s the match of the tournament.”

Game 10: 15:40, Group A, NETHERLANDS 6 FYR OF MACEDONIA 9
Quarters: 1-1, 0-3, 3-3, 2-2
Referees: Cem FILIKSAC (TUR), Jose WERNER (BRA).
Extra Man: NED: 2/10.  MKD: 4/8
NETHERLANDS: Jordy STIL, Thomas LUCAS, Tjerk KRAMER (2), Mike VAN DEN BRINK, Luuk GIELEN, Robin LINDHOUT (2), Lars GOTTEMAKER (1). Richard VAN ECK (1), Ruud VAN DER HORST, Roeland SPIJKER, Tim REUTEN, Matthijs LUCAS, Robert BESKERS. Head Coach: Johan AANTJES.

MKD reversed a 10-8 loss at the January European Championships to have the better of the Dutch for all of the game.  A major blow for the Macedonians was the ejection from the match of Boris LETICA for allegedly striking the head of an opponent late in the first quarter. The break came in the second quarter when the Macedonians scored three straight with AKSENTIJEVIC claiming two, one off a cross pass and the other on extra-man advantage. KRAMER replied in the first minute of the third period, the Netherlands’ first goal since LINDHOUT’s opening goal 14 minutes earlier. BASARA and IVOSEVIC took their team to 6-2, the latter’s goal coming off a fortuitous rebound that landed in front of him at two metres. LINDHOUT on extra and VAN ECK from the top had the Dutch back in the game but CUK scored at centre forward for 7-4 at three-quarter time. KRAMER and GOTTEMAKER scored either side of a MARTINIC for 8-6 but AKSENTIJEVIC scored his third after the exclusion period and following a timeout at 2:00. For the Netherlands it was too late. The Macedonians had total control and learned their lessons from Eindhoven in January.

Netherlands vs FYR of Macedonia - credit: Russell McKinnon

Srgian AKSENTIJEVIC (MKD) — three goals, on his team’s performance: “This was an important match for us, one that we had to win if we hope to advance into the quarter-finals and to have a chance to qualify for the Olympics.”

Robin LINDHOUT (NED) — two goals, on a disappointing result: “This was the beginning of our chance to get to the Olympics. Now, it’s going to be really, really tough for us. I think we gave it all, but it wasn’t enough today.”
On the impact of a slow start: “In the beginning, if you go up 3-1 it’s a completely different match. Instead of that, we fall behind 1-4 at half time and I think it was just over at that point. ”

Johan AANTJES (NED) — Head Coach, on the reason for the loss: “The team is very disappointed. We had a good chance to win this game...but the tempo was too slow for us and I think that’s the main reason why we lost this match.”

Game 11: 17:00, Group A, ROMANIA 10 GREECE 9
Quarters: 2-3, 3-2, 2-2, 3-2
Referees: Nenad PERIS (CRO), Doriel TERPENKA (CAN).
Extra Man: ROU: 4/8. GRE: 3/14
Pen: GRE: 1/1
ROMANIA: Dragos STOENESCU, Cosmin RADU (4), Tiberiu NEGREAN (1), Nicolae DIACONU, Andrei IOSEP (1), Andrei BUSILA, Alexandru MATEI GUIMAN (1), Mihnea CHIOVEANU (1), Dimitri GOANTA, Ramiro GEORGESCU (1), Alexandru GHIBAN, Kalman KADAR, (1) Mihai DRAGUSIN. Head Coach: Istvan KOVACS.
GREECE: Nikolaos DELIGIANNIS, Emmanouil MYLONAKIS, Andreas MIRALIS (2), Konstantinos KOKKINAKIS, Theodoros CHATZITHEODOROU, Argyris THEODOROPOULOS (1), Christos AFROUDAKIS (2), Evangelos DELAKAS, Georgios AFROUDAKIS (1), Iannis FOUNTOULIS (2), Konstantinos MOURIKIS, Matthaios VOULGARAKIS (1), Filippos KARAMPETSOS. Head Coach: Dragan ANDRIC.

Romania, thanks to superman Cosmin RADU with his four goals, headed off a defiant Greece in a game where both teams held the lead four times. Greece was not headed in the first half but Romania went 6-5 ahead at the start of the third while Greece fought back to level twice. Greece regained the lead at the top of the fourth through FOUNTOULIS but two quick Romanian goals through MATEI GUIMAN and Ramiro GEORGESCU had the game at 9-8. MIRALIS brought the game to 9-9 at 3:32 with a penalty goal to keep the game alive but NEGREAN netted his second on extra-man advantage at 2:43. Greece gained an ejection and took a timeout. The plan was simple — score a goal. However, the ball was lost on the second pass. Romania could not score but Greece worked hard and gained an ejection at 0:21. Greece worked the ball around and finally it was left with the brilliant MIRALIS to secure a draw. He baulked once too often and the final buzzer left him with the ball in hand. He shot anyway and it made no impact. Greece played poorly at times and the early threat of Christos AFROUDAKIS (three goals but officially only awarded two with the other erroneously going to his brother Georgios) was negated in the second half as he seemed reluctant to shoot under the heavy pressure. RADU was king for Romania, whether from centre forward, on extra or from a five-metre throw. For Romania it was a first win following Sunday’s 10-9 loss to Germany while Greece had a first loss after a big win over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Greece vs Romania - credit: Russell McKinnon

Cosmin RADU (ROU) — four-goal performance, on taking control of the game: “When we started to control the pace, we started playing the way we wanted to, and the result showed that we’re a little bit better than they were.” On his team’s confidence: “We played together as a team the whole game. I don’t think we ever stopped believing in ourselves, so that’s a very important thing.”

Dragan ANDRIC (CRO) — Greece Head Coach, on poor defending: “We let in too many goals. Our defence was not so bad generally but we were not precise enough in some situations.”

Christos AFROUDAKIS (GRE) — three-goal scorer, on remaining confident after a tough loss: “I think that we have the abilities to win... so we have to remain calm and concentrate on our goal and our target.” On the gruelling nature of the tournament: “The truth is that, when you play every day, for an athlete it’s very tough. But it’s the Olympic Qualification, so we have to forget that. We have to find the motivation to forget the tiredness and to continue to play to the end.”

Game 12, 18:20, Group A, MONTENEGRO 11 GERMANY 7
Quarters: 4-0, 3-2, 3-4, 1-1
Referees: Filippo GOMEZ (ITA), Sergio BORRELL (ESP).
Extra Man: MNE: 2/8; GER: 0/9
Pens: MNE: 3/3. GER: 2/2
MONTENEGRO: Zdravko RADIC, Drasko BRGULJAN, Vjekoslav PASKOVIC (1), Antonio PETROVIC, Filip KLIKOVAC, Aleksandar RADOVIC (2), Mladan JANOVIC (3), Nikola JANOVIC (1), Aleksandar IVOVIC (3), Boris ZLOKOVIC, Vladimir GOJKOVIC, Predrag JOKIC (1), Mikos SCEPANOVIC. Head Coach: Vido LOMPAR.
GERMANY: Alexander TCHIGIR, Florian NAROSKA (1), Tim WOLLTHAN, Julian REAL (1), Marko STAMM (2), Marc POLITZE, Erik BUKOWSKI, Paul SCHUELER, Tobias KREUZMANN, Moritz OELER (2), Andreas SCHLOTTERBECK (1), Sven ROESSING, Roger KONG. Head Coach: Hagen STAMM.

Sheer shooting power saw Montenegro outplay Germany but it was the manner in which the European No 2 started the game that had Germany stunned. It was 5-0 before Germany hit the scoreboard and from then on both teams were relatively even. However, Montenegro shot at will and the power behind those shots would certainly power several small cities. Germany won the second half but at 7-1 down, a STAMM goal 16 seconds from halftime saw the start of the mission to claim back goals. Two OELER goals and another from REAL had the game at 8-5 and some hope for Germany. IVOVIC and Mladan JANOVIC took it to 10-5. STAMM converted a penalty for 10-6 by the final break. However, Montenegro wanted the win and made sure Germany had to work for goals but not come close enough to win. Both final-quarter goals were scored by 6:02 and the goal-scoring stopped. Few penalties have been awarded so far but three went against Germany in the first quarter alone. Two German penalties, successfully converted, came in the third quarter. Germany has what it takes to claim a top four position in Edmonton but Montenegro just has to be the raging favourite for top spot here on the strength of this game.

Montenegro vs Germany - credit: Russell McKinnon

Moritz OELER (GER) — two goals, on Germany’s slow start: “I don’t know. We were a little bit confused, I think. They played very good and very tough and had a very strong press and we had problems with that.”

Game 7: 19:40, Group B, CANADA 12 BRAZIL 9
Quarters: 2-1, 1-2, 6-2, 3-4
Referees: Daniel FLAHIVE (AUS), Axel BENDER (GER).
Extra Man: CAN: 3/9. BRA: 8/15
Pen: CAN: 1/1
CANADA: Robin RANDALL, Constantin KUDABA, Oliver VIKALO, Nicolas CONSTANTIN-BICARI (2), Justin BOYD (2), Scott ROBINSON, Luka GASIC, Kevin GRAHAM (3), Aaron FELTHAM (1), John CONWAY, Devon DIGGLE (2), Jared McELROY (2), Dusan ALEKSIC. Head Coach: Dragan JOVANOVIC.
BRAZIL: Vinicius ANTONELLI, Bernardo GOMES, Henrique MIRANDA, Gustavo COUTINHO, Marcelo FRANCO (2), Gabriel ROCHA, Jonas CRIVELLA, Felipe SILVA (4), Bernardo ROCHA (1), Ruda FRANCO, Gustavo GUIMARAES (2), Danilo CORREA, Marcelo CHAGAS. Head Coach: Goran SABLIC.

A blistering 6-2 third period was the difference between Canada and Brazil. Canada was playing its first game of the tournament and appeared a little rusty but led at the quarter and held on for a 3-3 score at halftime. Then the floodgates opened as McELROY scored twice in a four-goal burst that had the Brazilians reeling. SILVA and Bernardo ROCHA brought it back to 7-5 but three more Canadian goals took the score to 10-5 two minutes into the final quarter. Yellow cards were flying thick and fast with both coaches receiving one and a player in the pool. Marcelo FRANCO and GUIMARAES brought the game to 10-7 with three minutes left but BOYD’s penalty goal gave a four-goal margin with goals traded thereafter. Probably the best goal of the game came from CONSTANTIN-BICARI who swiftly turned a long outside pass into goal off the right-post position at 1:19 in the last. It was easily Canada’s night and a sound start to its ambitions of repeating what happened in Oradea, Romania four years ago when it qualified with a second-placed finish.

Canada vs Brazil - credit: Russell McKinnon

Gustavo COUTINHO (BRA), on the strength of Canada: “It was a really tight game and we know them well through Pan American Games and World Championships and it’s a young team, a fast team.” On how the game unfolded: “If we played the whole game as we did in the second and fourth quarters, we would have been competitive.” On why Canada won the third period 6-2: “It happened like that yesterday against Spain. After the five-minute (halftime) break we seem to have cooled down too much.”

Goran SABLIC (CRO) — Brazil head coach, on Canada’s superiority: “They were better physically prepared and they were cheered on by their spectators.” On the crucial third quarter: “It was a blackout as expected. Brazil must work harder and play more games. Next time we will try to win.” On Tuesday’s clash with Argentina: “We want to make up for the 9-6 loss to them at the South American Championships.”