Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee

Two decisive wins in Group A and two extremely tight battles in Group B kicked off the 2017 edition of the FINA Men’s Water Polo Development Trophy in Malta. 

One couldn’t have wished for a more thrilling opening encounter than the clash between Singapore and Austria. The European sided took off the better start and jumped to a 2-4 lead after eight minutes and went 2-5 up early in the second. The Singaporeans began to climb back and trailed by a single goal at half-time, but Austria, led by Johannes Gratzl who netted four goals, managed to widen the gap once more and took a 5-8 lead from the first attack in the fourth. Few would have guessed that they couldn’t score any more while Singapore netted three in a row to level the score at 8-8 with 1:59 minutes remaining. Austria had a man-up after a time-out but missed it, then the same happened to their rivals – still, the Asians had the last laugh as Ong netted a fine action goal six seconds from time to complete his team’s amazing comeback in the last period.

 

The following match in Group B produced the same scoreline. This encounter didn’t see such a four-goal rush but it didn’t lack twists and turns either. Peru got a flying start scoring twice in 31 seconds but the Saudis responded soon with a double for 2-2. Diego Villar’s two goals put the Peruvians ahead and his third goal gave a 6-4 lead for the Latin Americans at the beginning of the third period. The Saudis fought on, however, and came back to even terms before the last break (7-7). What’s more, they went ahead for the first time in the match in the fourth and even though Peru equalised, Garral’s third goal 54 seconds before the end proved to be a game-winner.

Group A matches were less balanced, Iran widened the gap quarter by quarter, though Uruguayans tried to hold on as they pulled back a couple of goals after being down 1-5 deep into the second, but after 3-6 the Persian side netted three straight goals for 3-9 and there was no way back for the South Americans.

 

Malta didn’t let the Tunisians into the game as they took a devastating start, scored four connecting goals in a span of 1:49 minutes and never looked back. The game was virtually decided by half-time when the hosts were 3-10 up already but they didn’t stop entertaining the local fans. Steven Camilleri led the charge with an amazing seven goals, and the team almost hit 20, sending a strong message to their other opponents on their goals in this tournament.

 

Results, Day 1

Game 1, 15.30 – Group B: Singapore v Austria 9-8

Quarters: 2-4, 2-1, 1-2, 4-1

Referees: Peter Balzan (MLT), Mourad Jenhani (TUN)

Scorers

Singapore: Lee 3, Yee, Chow, Ong, Yu, Chiam, Teo

Austria: Gratzl 4, Celebic, Lukas, Schmidt, Lang

 

Game 2, 16.50 – Group B: Peru v Saudi Arabia 8-9

Quarters: 2-2, 3-2, 2-3, 1-2

Referees: Michiel Zwart (NED), Felipe Montagne (URU)

Scorers

Peru: Villar 4, Grandez 2, Rojas, Guevara

Saudi Arabia: Garral 3, Aldaughter 3, Alzahrami, Olayam, Alhanbe

 

Game 3, 18.10 – Group A: Uruguay v Iran 8-15

Quarters: 1-2, 2-4, 1-4, 4-5

Referees: Andrey Korolev (AUT), Beng Guan Jeremy Cheng (SIN)

Scorers

Uruguay: Santiago 5, Ramiro 2, Nicolas

Iran: Yazdanthah 3, Khanbann 2, Keihani 2, Rostemian 2, Dehdari 2, Pirozkhah, Almasi, Khaledytabar

 

Game 4, 19.30 – Group A: Tunisia v Malta 9-19

Quarters: 2-5, 1-5, 3-5, 3-4

Referees: Ulrich Spiegel (GER), Hassan Ali Aljabri (KSA)

Scorers

Tunisia: Karim 2, Chihob 2, Nadim, Nadhem, Nobil, Bechir, Mohamed

Malta: S. Camilleri 7, Gabarretta 4, Nizzi 2, D. Zammit 2, M. Zammit, Aquilina, J. Camilleri, Causin