Montenegro and Spain rise to the top of Olympic qualifier

London 2012 Water Polo

Edmonton (April 7) - Montenegro will play Spain in the final of the men’s Olympic Games Qualification Tournament at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here today. Following an incredible 13-12 overtime victory against Greece in their semifinal, Montenegro will be out for an unbeaten streak against Spain on Sunday. The Montenegrins had to over a 6-1 deficit midway through the second quarter to trail by just two goals at halftime. It became 8-8 at the final break and it was left to Greek captain Georgios AFROUDAKIS to score a breakaway goal to level the game at 1:24 to see the game into overtime.

Greece took control with a 2-1 first period but the wily Vladimir GOJKOVIC and power centre forward Boris ZLOKOVIC made sure of victory with a 2-0 period. The key to the victory was Mladan JANOVIC, who scored five goals, including two in the fourth quarter. Greece lost some of its defensive power when regular goalkeeper and three-time Olympian Nikolaos DELIGIANNIS, who gave up a penalty foul for messing with the goal at the stroke of halftime, was red-carded for misconduct.

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Final four berths decided for London Olympic Games

London 2012 Water Polo

Edmonton (April 6) - Montenegro, Romania, Spain and Greece booked the final berths for the 2012 London Olympic Games when they clearly won their quarter-finals at the men’s Olympic Games Qualification Tournament at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here today. It was a Good Friday for the four teams as they completed the 12-team roster for London, making sure of their berths with some emphatic performances.

Montenegro, spearheaded by captain Nikola JANOVIC (4 goals) and Aleksandar IVOVIC (5 goals), were too strong and always knew that they would book a flight to London, using the match as a showcase of the players’ individual skills. Turkey kept in the game at 5-2 and, but for a toiling effort in the third quarter that brought three goals to Montenegro’s one, had to enjoy the chance of playing one of the best teams in the world.

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Macedonians upset Germany and force way into Olympic contention

London 2012 Water Polo

Edmonton (April 5) - Montenegro and Spain won through to the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament for men by winning their respective groups undefeated at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here. But the real action on day five was in the second game of the day when Germany forgot to bring its A game against the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. After leading 4-2 early in the third period, Germany’s goals dried up, the extra-man advantage conversion rate was none from eight and the Macedonians smelled blood and went in for the kill.

MKD, thanks to three Miroslav RANDJIKJ goals, including the last two of the game — scored late in the third quarter — held out the hapless Germans and denied them a shot at the quarter-finals with a 6-4 victory. MKD had snuck into the quarters on the strength of that match, finishing with four points, equal to Germany, but finishing ahead on the first tiebreak, the result between the two. A stunned auditorium was left aghast at the result of the 10th-placed team from the Beijing Olympics not having a shot on day six of this competition. Not at London is one thing, but not even in the quarter-finals of the qualification tournament is another.

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Greece upsets Germany in critical Group A encounter

London 2012 Water Polo

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.

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Greece piles the pressure on Montenegro

London 2012 Water Polo

Edmonton (April 3) - Greece nearly threw a spanner into the works when it came amazingly close to upsetting Montenegro on day three of the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament for men at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here today. Montenegro, playing in Group A, is the raging favourite and expected to dominate the event. Greece disagreed, levelled the game twice in the final and had the final shot of the match on extra-man advantage and sent the ball wide of the post.

It was an amazing game in which the potent firepower of Montenegro was kept in the bunker, mainly through Greece’s stoic defence. Twice in the dying minutes Greece repelled the Montenegro assault, showing that it is a chance come Friday’s all-important quarterfinals, which will decide the final four in London. Montenegro led 2-1, 4-2 and 6-4 at the breaks in a game where Mladan JANOVIC (MNE) and Christos AFROUDAKIS (GRE) excelled with three goals each. Montenegro has won three times and for Greece it was a second one-goal loss in three outings.

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