Greece upsets Germany in critical Group A encounter

Edmonton (April 4) - Greece threatened Montenegro on Tuesday and beat Germany 11-9 on Wednesday, pointing to a second-placed finished in the powerful Group A at the men’s Olympic Games Qualification Tournament at Kinsmen Sports Centre in Edmonton. Greece had the better of the game throughout and stunned Germany with a four-goal margin midway through the third period.

The result was far different from the 9-6 win by Germany at January’s European Championships and heralds Greece’s return to the international stage after a few years in the wilderness. The return of the old stars has spurred the team along and the intensity level was definitely lifted in the game against Germany.

Ioannis FOUNTOULIS (GRE), Moritz OELER and Paul SCHUELER (GER) all scored three goals but it was the latter who scored three of Germany’s last four to bring Germany back into the game. The possibility stands that three teams — Greece, Germany and Romania — could tie on six points on Thursday and the two-goal margin would put Greece ahead in the tiebreaker.

It was the game of the day when others went to expectations. Romania beat the Netherlands 7-5 in what was a gutsy effort by the Dutch, and Montenegro defeated the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia 14-6 after being 11-2 ahead in the third period.

In Group B, Spain rolled Turkey 21-2 and Canada used shock tactics against Argentina to win 13-5 after forcing the South Americans into a timeout less than four minutes into the opening quarter when four down. Argentina has a bye tomorrow.

On Thursday, final placings will be decided with Montenegro facing Romania to stay undefeated in Group A and Spain and Canada, both undefeated, playing off for the Group B title.

Match Reports:

Game 21: 14:20, Group B, TURKEY 2 SPAIN 21
Quarters: 0-5, 0-6, 2-4, 0-6
Referees: Axel BENDER (GER), Risto DAMCEVSKI (MKD)
Extra Man: TUR:0/8. ESP: 2/7
Pens: ESP: 3/3
TURKEY: Atilla SEZER, Ali Can YILMAZ, Berk BIYIK, Oytun OKMAN, Berk GUNCUT, Emre COSKUN, Osman GULENG, Ali Can GAGATAY (2), Nadir SUNMEZ, Anil SUNMEZ, Halil BESKARDESLER, Can GUVEN, Ali Ozcan KILIG. Head Coach: Halil AVCIOGLU.
SPAIN: Inaki AGUILAR, Mario GARCIA, Oscar CARRILLO (1), Balazs SZIRANYI, Guillermo MOLINA (3), Marc MINGUELL (3), Ivan GALLEGO (1), Albert ESPANOL (5), Blai MALLARACH (3), Felipe PERRONE (2), Ivan PEREZ (2), Xavier GARCIA, (1), Daniel LOPEZ. Head Coach: Rafael AGUILAR.

Turkey’s nine-goal loss to Canada the night before weighed heavily on Turkey, who struggled to contain the speed and mass of the ladder-leading Spaniards. Turkey was kept scoreless in the first half as wave after wave of Spanish assaults found their targets. ESPANOL lifted his scoring average appreciably with a five–goal haul to add to his three from previous matches. Turkey offered little resistance, except in the third periods where GAGATAY scored from centre forward and from outside. It was a game Turkey could not win, instead looking forward to Thursday and the all-important clash with Brazil to have any chance of advancing to the quarter-finals. For Spain it was a workout but not the intense pressure needed ahead of the group-winning clash with Canada on Thursday.

Turkey vs Spain - credit: Russell McKinnon

Ali Ozcan KILIG (TUR) — Goalkeeper for fourth quarter (allowed six goals), on playing in a very one-sided game: “I only played the fourth quarter, but even that was enough.” On the difficulties with the Turkish team: “We want to do something but, I don’t know, there is something wrong with the team... there is some problem we cannot solve.” On the mindset as a goalkeeper entering the match in the fourth quarter: “It is the same thing for me (in the fourth quarter) as it is at the beginning of the game because I start with a clean sheet. So, I tried to do the best I could but, what can you say?”

Albert ESPANOL (ESP) — Scored five goals, on the approach to the match against Turkey, which has lost all three matches so far: “In this kind of game, you never know. If you start weakly, then you’ll get in trouble. If you start hard, then it gets easier. And that’s what we did.”

Game 22: 15:40, Group A, NETHERLANDS 5 ROMANIA 7
Quarters: 1-1, 3-3, 0-2, 1-1
Referees: Doriel TERPENKA (CAN), Cem FILIKSAC (TUR).
Extra Man: NED: 0/12. ROU:1/4
Pens: NED: 1/1. ROU: 2/3
NETHERLANDS: Jordy STIL, Thomas LUCAS, Tjerk KRAMER (1), Mike VAN DEN BRINK, Luuk GIELEN (1), Robin LINDHOUT (1), Lars GOTTEMAKER (1). Richard VAN ECK, Ruud VAN DER HORST, Roeland SPIJKER (1), Tim REUTEN, Matthijs LUCAS, Robert BESKERS. Head Coach: Johan AANTJES.
ROMANIA: Dragos STOENESCU, Cosmin RADU (2), Tiberiu NEGREAN, Nicolae DIACONU, Andrei IOSEP (2), Andrei BUSILA, Alexandru MATEI GUIMAN (1), Mihnea CHIOVEANU, Dimitri GOANTA, Ramiro GEORGESCU (1), Alexandru GHIBAN (1), Kalman KADAR, Mihai DRAGUSIN. Head Coach: Istvan KOVACS.

Romania emerged the winner but it was not easy as the Netherlands proved formidable opponents; the fact that the Dutch led 3-2 late in the first half attests to this. Netherlands took the lead at 2-1 midway through the second before GHIBAN replied for Romania. GOTTEMAKER scored a “donut” on extra for 3-2 at 1:05. At 0:53 RADU converted a penalty and at 0:17 MATEI GUIMAN scored for a Romanian 4-3 lead. The half was not over as in the final second, the Netherlands gained a penalty and LINDHOUT converted for 4-4. Romania continued its charge in the third with IOSEP on penalty and RADU with a superb centre-forward effort off a rebound. He showed total control and took time placing the ball. GEORGESCU scored after a Romanian timeout for 7-4 two minutes into the final quarter. The Dutch tried the same thing to no effect. Romania gained a yellow card for talking from the bench. SPIJKER broke a nearly 14-minute drought with a lovely score off a long cross pass on counter but, at 2:35 it was too late. Romania gained a penalty, which would sew up the game but KADAR let the ball slip from his hand, protesting he had been interfered with to no avail. Romania took a timeout, mainly to settle the crew, which it did and the final score was 7-5. For Romania it was a third win from four matches, cementing a position in the quarter-finals, while the Dutch are winless.

Netherlands vs Romania - credit: Russell McKinnon

Robin LINDHOUT (NED) — Scored once, on being dissatisfied with his team’s performance: “Maybe for the outside world the result looks pretty good, but I don’t think we can be really satisfied with it.” On wasting opportunities: “Five goals in total when we have like 12, 13, 14 man-ups is just not good enough.”

Alexandru MATEI GUIMAN (ROU) — Scored once, on the match: “It was a difficult match because every team is here to win and we’ve already had three tough games. That’s why we weren’t very strong at the start of the match.” On the importance of the win: “We’re very satisfied because, with the win, we’ve secured our spot in the quarter-finals (on Friday).”

Game 23, 17:00, Group A, MONTENEGRO 14 FYR OF MACEDONIA 6
Quarters: 3-0, 4-1, 4-2, 3-3
Referees: Steven ROTSART (USA), Jose WERNER (BRA)
Extra Man: MNE: 2/6. MKD: 2/9
Pens: MNE: 2/3. MKD: 1/1
MONTENEGRO: Zdravko RADIC, Drasko BRGULJAN (1), Vjekoslav PASKOVIC (2), Antonio PETROVIC (1), Filip KLIKOVAC (1), Aleksandar RADOVIC (3), Mladan JANOVIC (1), Nikola JANOVIC (2), Aleksandar IVOVIC (2), Boris ZLOKOVIC, Vladimir GOJKOVIC, Predrag JOKIC (1), Mikos SCEPANOVIC. Head Coach: Vido LOMPAR.

Montenegro continued its unbeaten run and a berth in the quarter-finals, with what looked like a “seaside outing”. Head Coach LOMPAR juggled his team and the positions as the players went on a wild ride, which allowed MKD through just once in the first half. By late in the third quarter it was 11-2 before MKD lifted its game and seized on every opportunity, grabbing a goal through MARTINIC on the buzzer. RADOVIC fired in his third at the start of the fourth but the Macedonians netted three goals on the trot with DIMOVSKI scoring identical goals a minute apart. RANDJIKJ also forced one in on counter and the score was more respectable 12-6 at 2:55. The free-flowing Montenegrins woke up to score through IVOVIC at 1:49 and JOKIC at 0:37, vaguely reminiscent to his semifinal extra-time, winning goal against Hungary in Eindhoven in January. Montenegro also used the normal No 2 goalkeeper, RADIC, for the entire game.

Montenegro vs FYR of Macedonia - credit: Russell McKinnon

Milos SCEPANOVIC (MNE) — Goalkeeper, on the match overall: “We expected a relatively easy game. We got off to a good start and were able to hold the lead through the game.” On Thursday’s last round robin-match against Romania: “If we can beat Romania tomorrow, it’ll mean we finish first in our group and an easier opponent in the quarter-final.”

Dimitar DIMOVSKI (MKD) — Scored twice, on the match: “It was a tough match, but we definitely played our best in the fourth quarter when we scored four goals. I scored two, but it was a team effort.”

Game 24: 18:20, Group A, GERMANY 9 GREECE 11
Quarters: 2-4, 2-2, 2-3, 3-1
Referees: Filippo GOMEZ (ITA), Nenad PERIS (CRO)
Extra Man: GER: 2/12. GRE: 4/11
Pens: GER: 1/1
GERMANY: Alexander TCHIGIR, Florian NAROSKA, Tim WOLLTHAN, Julian REAL (1), Marko STAMM, Marc POLITZE (1), Erik BUKOWSKI, Paul SCHUELER (3), Tobias KREUZMANN, Moritz OELER (3), Andreas SCHLOTTERBECK (1), Sven ROESSING, Roger KONG. Head Coach: Hagen STAMM.
GREECE: Nikolaos DELIGIANNIS, Emmanouil MYLONAKIS (2), Andreas MIRALIS, Konstantinos KOKKINAKIS, Theodoros CHATZITHEODOROU, Argyris THEODOROPOULOS (1), Christos AFROUDAKIS (2), Evangelos DELAKAS, Georgios AFROUDAKIS (2), Iannis FOUNTOULIS (3), Konstantinos MOURIKIS, Matthaios VOULGARAKIS, Filippos KARAMPETSOS. Head Coach: Dragan ANDRIC.

Greece played with incredible intensity throughout, lifting for this game after Germany won their January European Championship classification match 9-6. It ended in acrimony in Eindhoven and could have gone that way today but the game was almost without blemish with Greece finishing the better of the two, having led by four goals midway through the third period. Germany was not rattled and came back to win the last quarter 3-1 with SCHUELER scoring twice but, unfortunately, giving up the major foul in the last minute that allowed Greece to hold on to the ball until the final buzzer. OELER and SCHUELER scored three each for Germany but it was the all-round play of Greece that impressed. The two-goal margin could prove beneficial for Greece if, games go as expected on Thursday, leaving Greece second in the group in what would be a three-way tie for second. However, that is for the next day. Today, it was Greece who started well with FOUNTOULIS scoring the first two Greek goals. Germany won the second period and pulled another back to trail 6-5 early in the third quarter. Hagen STAMM received a yellow card when Georgios AFROUDAKIS scored from what STAMM thought was from inside the two metres. FOUNTOULIS with his third and MYLONAKIS with his second took Greece to that four-goal margin. Then SCHUELER came into his own with the last goal of the third and then a brace in the fourth. SCHUELER’s second came at 3:02 for 10-8 when there was still a chance for Germany to win. However, all hopes were snuffed when captain Georgios AFROUDAKIS muscled his way around at two metres to score for 11-8 at 1:44.

Germany vs Greece - credit: Russell McKinnon

Hagen STAMM (GER) — Head coach, on the challenges of playing in Group A: “It is unbelievably hard to play eight games in eight days. It is not normal. You know, maybe other things will decide who goes to the Olympics. Not only the power of the teams, by maybe the (tournament) draw as well.” On the fatigue amon the players: “We have no injuries now and we are happy about that. You know, they are tired, but all teams in our group have the same problem. Lucky is Spain and Canada.”

Paul SCHUELER (GER) — scored three goals, on the lost opportunity to secure second place in Group A: “It’s disappointing. A win would have put us into second place in our group. Now, we have to see what happens tomorrow (in our match with FYR of Macedonia).” On the key factor in the game: "It was defence. We made a lot of mistakes in defence and Greece just stood like a wall. This was the key for them.”

Nikolaos DELIGIANNIS (GRE) — Goalkeeper, on the game strategy: “We had our plan, especially on defence, but on the attack as well. We managed to do very well in both sectors. And we managed to get a four-goal lead and after that the game, for us, got easier.”

Dragan ANDRIC (GRE) — Head coach, on the significance of the event: “There’s big tension. This is the most difficult competition. It’s big pressure. There’s nothing else like the Olympic tournament. We work four years for this... this tournament will decide your destiny.”

Game 19: 19:40, Group B, CANADA 13 ARGENTINA 5

Quarters: 5-1, 3-1, 3-2, 2-1
Referees: Nikolaos VASILEIOU (GRE), Aleksandar ADZIC (MNE)
Extra Man: CAN: 3/10. ARG: 3/11
CANADA: Robin RANDALL, Constantin KUDABA (1), Oliver VIKALO (3), Nicolas CONSTANTIN-BICARI (2), Justin BOYD (2), Scott ROBINSON (1), Luka GASIC (1), Kevin GRAHAM, Aaron FELTHAM, John CONWAY, Devon DIGGLE (2), Jared McELROY (1), Dusan ALEKSIC. Head Coach: Dragan JOVANOVIC.
ARGENTINA: Hernan MAZZINI, Ramiro VEICH (1), Juan MONTANE, Brian CARABANTES, Emanuel LOPEZ, Ignacio ECHENIQUE, Fernando ARREGUI, Gonzalo ECHENIQUE (2), Ivan CARABANTES (1), Ramiro GIL (1), Franco DEMARCHI, German YANEZ, Franco TESTA. Head Coach: Nahuel ALFONSO.

Canada used the “no-nonsense” approach, slamming in goals at will and totally shaking its South American opponent. In fact, those first four goals came in just four attacks down the pool. Argentinian head coach ALFONSO took a timeout to settle the team and urge defence against the rampant Canadians. It worked as the blood-letting stopped and GIL put Argentina on the scoreboard three minutes later for 4-1. Canada had a 6-1 advantage early in the second period and 8-2 by halftime. Goals were traded in the third quarter as the huge Canadian support base trumpeted its team’s every movement. VIKALO upset the rhythm of the goal-trading when he doubled up on KUDABA’s effort to have Canada well poised at 11-4 heading into the final quarter. CARABANTES scored for Argentina for 11-5 as Argentina had the better of the quarter against the Canadian bench, which was gaining huge water time. It was not until inside the last minute that ROBINSON and DIGGLE scored goals to blow out the margin to eight. It was Canada’s third win and set it up for the Group B decider with Spain on Thursday with the winner having the “easier” of the quarter-finals on Friday. Argentina might have finished its campaign because it would have had to play the “no-show” Venezuela on Thursday. One point from the tournament after the draw with Turkey was invaluable and set the team on the path to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games as the host nation.

Oliver VIKALO (CAN) — Three goals, on his hat-trick: “I didn’t have to do much but throw it in the net. My team-mates did a pretty good job getting me open. It wasn’t really me, it was them.” On being consistent going forward: “We have to build on a good first quarter and keep some consistency. Because the next two games are really important and if we’re not consistent, it’s not going to be close.”

Aaron FELTHAM (CAN) — Team Captain, on making progress in the match tonight: “It’s a step up. We brought more energy tonight.” On the team’s overall confidence level: “We feel pretty good about ourselves. We’ve been building some confidence. We’ve got our main guns firing and we’re starting to swim better as well.”

Scott ROBINSON (CAN) — One goal, on the key to beating Spain on Thursday: “We have to keep the tempo we play at. We’ve got to play smart and we’ve got to watch everything the whole time.”

Emanuel LOPEZ (ARG), on the opening four minutes when Argentina went 4-0 down: “We did not start well. Canada was very fast and we couldn’t stop them. They scored goals very easily. We attacked with strength but they defended very well.” On the biggest Canadian threat: “No 4 (Nicolas CONSTANTIN-BICARI) played very well so that made a lot of difference.”

Nahuel ALFONSO (ARG) — Head coach, on what he told his team at the first timeout: “I told them to remember what we discussed before the match. Then we started playing good water polo. With the exception of the last two goals (by Canada), we matched Canada, so I was pleased with that.”