WP World Cup (M), Day 4: Serbia-Croatia and Hungary-USA semifinal pair-ups

Water Polo World Cup

MNE vs CRO - credit: Russell McKinnonSerbia will clash with Croatia and Hungary will play United States of America in Saturday’s semifinals of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World Cup at the Central Swimming Pool in Almaty following Friday’s quarter-final action.

Serbia was dominant but allowed too many goals against it against Kazakhstan in the feature evening match, before winning 16-10. Head Coach Dejan Savic looked unhappy with his team and dressed them down in the warm-down pool immediately after the match.


Croatia was two goals down early against Montenegro but controlled most of the match to win 6-5. Montenegro struggled for 27 minutes, scoring just one goal in that time while Croatia was building a war chest of goals. That war chest was only six and Montenegro struck twice in the dying minutes, putting the match and the crowd on tenterhooks.

Hungary had the easier of the quarter-finals, downing South Africa 15-1 and heralded the return of captain Daniel Varga, back after two matches off through an allergic reaction.

USA won through a penalty shootout against Australia 11-9 after earlier holding three-goal and two-goal advantages. Australia kept coming back and levelled at 7-7 with two minutes remaining to force the shootout. Australia struck out on both opening shots, while USA had one blocked before captain John Mann scored the winner on the fifth USA shot.



Match Reports:

Match 13: 14:30, Quarterfinal, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 11 AUSTRALIA 9 in penalty shootout (FT: 7-7. Pens: 4-2)
Quarters: 3-2, 1-2, 3-1, 0-2

Referees: Nenad Peris (CRO), Gabor Vogel (HUN).
Extra Man: USA: 4/16 AUS: 4/10
Pens: Nil.

Teams:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Merrill Moses, Ryder Roberts, Alex Obert, Michael Rosenthal, Luca Cupido (2), Conner Cleary, Josh Samuels (1), Bret Bonnani (2), Alex Bowen (4), Nolan McConnell, Jesse Smith, John Mann (2), McQuin Baron. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.
AUSTRALIA: James Clark, Richard Campbell (1), George Ford, John Cotterill (2), Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist (1), Aidan Roach (1), Aaron Younger (1), Lachlan Edwards, Tyler Martin (2), Mitchell Emery, Blake Edwards (1), Edward Slade, James Stanton. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.


USA vs AUS - credit: Russell McKinnon
USA vs AUS - credit: Russell McKinnon

USA captain John Mann was the ultimate hero in a penalty-shootout victory over Australia. Bowen, Bonnani and Cupido scored their opening penalty shots while Australia started badly with normally safe shooters Aaron Younger (bar) and captain Richard Campbell (metre above crowbar) missing, leaving Aidan Roach and Tylert Martin to convert, forcing USA to the final shot, which Mann made no mistake about. USA should have had no such problems, giving up a three-goal lead in the first quarter and a two-goal advantage at the end of three quarters. USA started with a surge and went three up through Bowen, centre-forward Mann and Cupido. Bowen’s shot came from nine metres out and Cupido also shot from the top while Mann’s was the easiest of turns at two metres. Australia scored twice on extra — through Aaron Younger and Richard Campbell — to close the period at 3-2 in USA’s favour. Bowen opened the second quarter when two Aussie Sharks were ejected. Blake Edwards made it 4-3 from the left side of the pool. John Cotterill drew the match level on extra, 13 seconds from halftime. Cotterill repeated the effort to give Australia the lead for the first time at 6:39 in the third period. Bret Bonnani, so forceful against Serbia on Thursday, and Bowen on extra had the match out to 6-5 for USA. Both teams used their timeouts to no effect and it was left to Josh Samuels to once again give USA a two-goal lead with a swift shot on extra, nine seconds from the final break. Australia nullified the two-shot difference with Martin scoring his first for the tournament on extra and Jarrod Gilchrist accepted a deep cross pass from Younger to equalise at 2:10. Twice USA had an extra-man play in the final minute but had the first attempt thwarted on an intercepted cross pass and then with seconds ticking down, USA failed to take the shot before the buzzer, sending the match to a shootout.


Match 14: 15:50, Quarterfinal, MONTENEGRO 5 CROATIA 6
Quarters: 2-1, 1-1, 0-3, 2-1


Referees: Daniel Flahive (AUS), Viktor Salnichenko (KAZ)
Extra Man: MNE: 2/6. CRO: 1/8    
Pens: Nil.

Teams:
MONTENEGRO: Dejan Lazovic, Marko Vukmirovic, Nikola Markovic, Stefan Vidovic, Darko Brguljan (2), Bogdan Durdic, Dorde Bulatovic (1), Jovan Saric (1), Radovan Latinovic, Nikola Murisic, Filip Klikovac, Uros Cuckovic (2), Slaven Kandic. Head Coach: Ranko Perovic.
CROATIA: Marko Bijac, Luka Bukic, Ivan Milakovic, Marino Divkovic, Ante Vukicevic, Ivan Buljubasic (1), Petar Muslim (3), Kristijan Milakovic, Ante Viskovic, Duje Zivkovic, Andelo Setka (1), Marko Macan (1), Ivan Marcelic. Head Coach: Ivica Tucak.


MNE vs CRO - credit: Russell McKinnon
MNE vs CRO - credit: Russell McKinnon

Montenegro may have led 2-0 in the first few minutes of the match, but Croatia ground out the one-goal victory and advancement to the semifinals. Montenegro could not breach Croatia’s defence enough and scoring the last two goals meant that in a 27-minute period, it only managed one goal, and that was a second to Uros Cuckovic at 2:29 in the second period, a score that took Montenegro 3-2 ahead.  Both defences worked overtime and the goalkeepers were also excellent. Peter Muslim proved a differential that Montenegro could not replicate. He scored three goals — one a few seconds after the extra-man period had expired, which would have given Croatia a better statistic than the one-from-eight it achieved — and a screamer from the top, down the line to secure a 5-3 lead heading into the final quarter. Darko Brguljan sparked Montenegro’s revival at 2:40 in the last and Dorde Bulatovic followed up with a straight shot down the right a minute later. Croatia took a timeout at 0:39 and earned an exclusion, keeping the ball until the result was decided.

 
Match 16: 17:10, Quarterfinal, SOUTH AFRICA 1 HUNGARY 15
Quarters: 0-3, 0-5, 0-4, 1-3


Referees: Masoud Rezvani (IRI), Mark Maretzki (USA)
Extra Man: RSA: 0/5. HUN: 7/11.
Pens: RSA: 0/1

Teams:
SOUTH AFRICA: Dwayne Flatscher, Etienne Le Roux, Devon Card, Ignardus Badenhorst, Nicholas Rodda, Joao Marco De Carvalho, Lodewyk Rabie, Jared Wingate-Pearse, Dean Whyte, Pierre Le Roux (1), Christopher Baker, Nicholas Hock, Julian Lewis. Head Coach: Paul Martin.
HUNGARY: Attila Decker, Miklos Gor-Nagy (1), Norbert Madaras (3), Balazs Erdelyi (3), Bence Batori (3), Norbert Hosnyanszky, Adam Decker (1), Daniel Angyal, Daniel Varga (1), Denes Varga (1), Krisztian Bedo (2), Balazs Harai, Marton Levai. Head Coach: Tibor Benedek.


RSA vs HUN - credit: Russell McKinnon
RSA vs HUN - credit: Russell McKinnon

Hungary moved into the semifinals as expected against South Africa and honed some attacking skills for the weekend’s matches. South Africa was no match, but tried all the same and finally made the scoresheet when Pierre Le Roux sent in a bouncer that just missed a teammate’s head, curved off the water and hit the corner wood for 13-1 at 5:44 in the last quarter. Hungary was happy to have back captain Daniel Varga who suffered an allergic reaction to celery he had inadvertently eaten, according to brother Denes. He was sadly missed in the final-round match against Australia on Thursday when the clash was drawn at 8-8. Most of the team scored in the clash with South Africa and those not in the normal starting lineup gained valuable pool time before Saturday’s semifinal with United States of America. Hungary’s extra-man-attack skills were also evident.

 
Match 15: 18:30, Quarterfinal, SERBIA 16 KAZAKHSTAN 10
Quarters: 6-2, 3-3, 4-3, 3-2


Referees: Liang Zhang (CN), Ian Melliar (RSA).
Extra Man: SRB: 5/7. KAZ: 6/13.
Pens: SRB: 0/1. KAZ: 0/1

Teams:
SERBIA: Stefan Zivodinovic, Strahinja Rasovic (4), Dimitrije Obradovic (1), Dusan Markovic (1), Gavril Subotic (1), Nikola Eskert, Dusan Mandic (2), Viktor Rasovic (1), Sava Randelovic (2), Dusan Vasic, Srdan Vuksanovic (4), Dimitrije Risticevic. Head Coach: Dejan Savic.
KAZAKHSTAN: Makhmetov Madikhen, Sergey Gubarev (1), Yevgeniy Medvedev, Roman Pilipenko (2), Vladimir Ushakov (1), Alexey Shmider (4), Murat Shakenov (1), Anton Koliadenko, Rustam Ukumanov, Mikhail Ruday, Ravil Manafov, Branko Pekovich (1), Valeriy Shlemov. Head Coach: Sergey Drozdov.


SRB vs KAZ - credit: Russell McKinnon
SRB vs KAZ - credit: Russell McKinnon

Serbia did what was asked of head coach Dejan Savic against Kazakhstan in a match fronted by the largest crowd of the week. However, buoyed on by the crowd, Kazakhstan rose to the occasion and showed why it will be a strong contender for gold at next month’s Asian Games in Incheon, Korea. Behind 6-2 at the quarter, by halftime Kazakhstan had gained respect with a 3-3 period and Savic at times was cajoling his team into better things. That second period was a blip on Serbia’s radar. The third period was not that much better for Serbia as Kazakhstan maintained the pressure and almost went goal for goal. It could have been even if Vladimir Ushakov had converted a penalty attempt early in the third period when 9-6. Led by captain Dusan Mandic, Serbia slipped out to 11-6 with the aid of speedster Strahinja Rasovic, who is having a great week in Almaty. Alexey Schmider grabbed two goals either side of a Strahinja Rasovic counter-attack goal and the match was 13-8 at the final break. Serbia went to 15-8 before Branko Pekovich lobbed for 15-9. Srdan Vuksanovic countered, as did Sergey Gubarev, who finished the match with a push shot past the Serbian goalkeeper and a respectable 10 goals. Savic was unhappy with his charges and will be seeking better defence for the medal finals. Nemanda Ubovic was absent from the Serbian lineup having incurred a brutality foul for allegedly striking the head of an opponent in the third quarter of Thursday’s clash with United States of America.