Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Perth, Australia, Mar 26.— China men needed a late goal to force a penalty shootout with Argentina, which it lost, on the opening day of the FINA Water Polo World League Intercontinental Cup tournaments at the HBF Stadium in Perth.

It was a day of close matches and powerful play, but no closer than China squandering a match it led until five minutes from time and then suffering the humiliation of a shootout loss.

With the scores locked at 8-8, the first nine shooters converted before the final Chinese marksman had his effort blocked and Argentina had two points.

Japan and South Africa battled out a 33-goal match in the other Group A encounter. Japan finished 19-14 with Yusuke Inaba (JPN) and Liam Neill (RSA) top-scoring with five goals apiece.

In Group B, Kazakhstan and New Zealand slogged out an amazing match with four changes of the lead and the Kiwis dominating the middle of the match.

However, Kazakhstan came from 7-9 to 12-11 in the final quarter for victory.

Australia had to overcome a four-goal deficit in the first period to beat Canada 9-8 thanks to three goals from Aidan Roach. Australia redressed the imbalance by halftime at 6-5 and went 9-7 ahead only for Canada to claim the last goal.

In the women's competition, reigning World League champion United States of America survived a 3-3 opening quarter to shut out China for more than two quarters and went away for an 11-5 victory.

In the other Group A encounter, Japan headed off New Zealand 12-7 after leading just 8-7 a minute into the final quarter. Two counter-attack goals gave Japan the edge.

In Group B, Kazakhstan turned an 8-8 scoreline against South Africa four minutes from time into a 12-9 finish.

The feature match of the day had Australia facing Canada and both teams did not disappoint. Australia was 8-3 up at halftime only for Canada to win the second half 6-5. Canada closed to two at 2.45 in the last quarter.

Progress points

Men

Group A: Japan 3, Argentina 2, China 1, South Africa 0.

Group B: Kazakhstan 3, Australia 3, Canada 0, New Zealand 0.

Women

Group A: USA 3, Japan 3, New Zealand 0, China 0.

Group B: Australia 3, Kazakhstan 3, South Africa 0, Canada 0.