Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Gold Coast, Australia, April 28.— Australia came from 2-5 down to beat United States of America 12-8 on the fourth day of the men’s water polo FINA World League Intercontinental Tournament at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre today.

The win assures the Aussie Sharks of inclusion in the Super Final and gives bragging rights ahead of a possible rematch in Sunday’s final.

Kazakhstan collected its second win with a 15-8 victory over New Zealand, even with shooting star Murat Shakenov expelled on three majors before halftime.

Seiya Adachi spearheaded Japan to a 20-6 victory over China, scoring six goals.

Champion Serbia, Croatia and Italy have already qualified from Europe and will join host Russia in the Super Final in Ruza, Russia on June 20-25.

Points table: AUS 11, USA 9, JPN 7, KAZ 6, CHN 3, NZL 0.

Match reports: 

Match 10. 15.30, KAZAKHSTAN 15 NEW ZEALAND 8

Quarters: 3-2, 4-3, 6-3, 2-0

Referees: Anlong Meng (CHN), Yusuke Kajiwara (JPN)

Penalties: KAZ: 1/1.

Extra Man: KAZ: KAZ: 4/10. NZL: 4/14.


KAZAKHSTAN: Madikhan Makhmetov, Yevgeniy Medvedev (3), Egor Berbelyuk (1), Roman Pilipenko (3), Miras Aubakirov, Alexey Shmider (1), Murat Shakenov (1), Yulian Verdesh (1), Altay Altayev (2), Bolat Turlykhanov (1), Ravil Manafov (1), Stanislav Shvedov (1), Valeriy Shlemov. Head Coach: Nemanja Knezevic.

NEW ZEALAND: Sid Dymond, Matthew Lewis (1), Matthew Morris (1), Ryan Pike, Callum Maxwell, Matthew Small (4), Anton Sunde (1), Liam Paterson, Sean Bryant, Matthew Bryant, Jerome McGuinness, Sean Newcombe (1), Bae Fountain. Head Coach: Goran Sablic.


Kazakhstan did everything it needed to make the Super Final by winning a second match in regulation time, moving away from New Zealand in the third period to help secure victory. With the sun beating down in the faces of the Kazakhstan defenders in the first half and then New Zealand in the second, it made it hard to see what was happening at water level. New Zealand made the most of its chances keeping apace, but still finishing two goals in arrears by halftime. The joy for the Kiwis was that they had caused the departure on three major fouls of goal-scoring sensation Murat Shakenov just before the buzzer. Both teams struggled for goals in the first half and three extra-man goals to Kiwi captain Mathew Small brought the match to 6-5 in Kazakhstan’s favour with six different scorers. The match went awry for New Zealand from that point as Roman Pilipenko lifted Kazakhstan to 7-5 with a near-post score on extra. Shakenov shifted to the bench and the match was evenly poised at halftime.  The best goal of the half came from Altay Altayev who intercepted an outgoing pass from the Kiwis inside 4m, shot, had it blocked by Sid Dymond and then snapped up the rebound to score. Kazakhstan exploited the lowering sun and captain Alexander Medvedev scored on the first attack and Alexey Shmider on the second. Medvedev (his third) and Pilipenko took the margin out to 11-5 before Small grabbed his fourth, but at 11-6, New Zealand’s chances of making the Super Final had already gone. Kazakhstan, now at ease and enjoying the sun at its back, matched the Kiwis’ shooting until 13-8 stopped the clock at three-quarter time. New Zealand looked tired in the fourth and made simple mistakes, giving space for Kazakhstan to tackle the new goalkeeper, 16-year-old Bae Fountain.  Goals were non-existent for nearly six minutes as both teams applied pressure defence. Without Shakenov for half a match, Kazakhstan was still good enough to produce a fine victory.

Flash quotes:

Nemanja Knezevic (KAZ) — Head Coach

“Today my team was not playing in offence; there were a lot of mistakes because there was a lot of pressure. We faced a young team today from New Zealand —15-8 it is OK, but 14 exclusions is a big problem for my team. I must work on the techniques with my players. Today's man down was OK, it was 60-70% OK, but 14 exclusions is not good. But we got the win and that was important. The light was hard on players’ eyes today. Today's win takes the pressure off for when we play Japan tomorrow.”

Goran Sablic (NZL) — Head Coach

“Congratulations to Kazakhstan. They have more brains. We gave them the win. We presented them as a gift. We need to work more and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.”

Mathew Small (NZL) — Captain and four goals

“I gave them one goal. (Because of the sun) I passed straight to the centre forward, thinking he was one of our players. What an assist! Shooting let us down. We had plenty of opportunities — we had 14 extra-man chances and converted only four or five . It was pretty costly. They got a couple of counter-attack goals and they are not even fast. We had to play catch-up and take more risks. It was not a good place to be in.”

Picture: McKinnon Media

Match 11, 16:50, JAPAN 20 CHINA 6

Quarters: 6-2, 3-0, 4-1, 7-3

Referees: Haziel Ortega (USA), Daniel Flahive (AUS).

Penalties: CHN: 1/1.

Extra Man: JPN: 6/9. CHN: 0/1


JAPAN: Katsuyuki Tanamura, Seiya Adachi (6), Shuma Kawamoto (2), Mitsuaki Shiga, Takuma Yoshida, Atsuto Iida, Yusuke Shimizu (4), Mitsura Takata (1), Atsushi Arai (1), Kohei Inaba (4), Keigo Okawa (1), Kenta Araki (1), Tomoyoshi Fukushima. Head Coach: Yogi Omato.

CHINA: Zhi Wei Liang, Cheng Hao Chu (1), Jia Hao Peng (1), De Ming Li (2), Zhong Xian Chen, Ze Kai Xie (1), Wen Hui Lu, Yi Min Chen (1), Ge Lin Zhu, Yu Liu, Yun Ji Wang, Xiang Fu, Lin Feng Li. Head Coach: Ling Yun Mao.


Japan played the way it is capable of and proved why it was an Olympic contender last year in Rio de Janeiro. The 6-2 opening quarter said it all and the ability, speed and brilliance of Seiya Adachi ignited the flame for the Japanese. He finished the first period with four goals and it was not until late in the third period before he was called upon to score again. A shutout second period virtually sealed the match at 9-2 and China could find no way through, even dumping the ball on several occasions. It was 10-2 before China scored its third goal through Ze Kai Xie early in the third, only for Japan to rattle in three more — one on extra to Shuma Kawamoto for his second, Kohei Inaba on counter and Adachi for his fifth from right-hand catch — further enhancing Japan’s right to play at the Super Final. China opened the last through De Ming Li, but Japan went on the rampage with Shimizu collecting two more, Inaba a third and fourth, Adachi his sixth and Kenta Araki and Mitsura Takata for their first. China scored twice more through Li and Jia Hao Peng. China showed more application in the final quarter, when all was lost.

Flash quotes:

Yogi Omato (JPN) — Head Coach

"Very good performance. Our counter-attack was very good. China played good counter-attack as well, but I was happy with how the team played. Tomorrow we play against Kazakhstan —it is must-win (match). We want to finish ahead of Kazakhstan and China to be able to finish on top for Asia — there is only one spot for the Olympics and we want Japan to the be strongest team in Asia.”

Yusuke Shimizu (JPN) — Captain and four goals

“Today was an easy game with a lot of shots and good defence. We go into the game with the same plan every time and that is aggressive pressing, get the miss and go on counter. If we win against Kazakhstan we go to the Super Final (Ed: Japan into top four and cannot be overtaken), which will be very tough, but we will try hard for the Tokyo Olympics. If we get into the Super Final we will want one or two wins.”

Picture: McKinnon Media


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

Referees: Dragan Stampalija (CRO), Vojin Putnikovic (SRB)

Penalties: AUS: 1/1.

Extra Man: AUS: 4/5. USA: 1/4.


AUSTRALIA: Ed Slade, Luke Pavillard (1), Tim Putt, Joe Kayes (4), Nathan Power (1), Andrew Ford, Jarrod Gilchrist (3), John Cotterill (1), Rhys Holden, James Fannon (1), Lachlan Hollis (1), Nicholas Brooks, Anthony Hrysanthos. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Alexander Wolf, Nolan McConnell, Hannes Daube (2), Alexander Obert (1), Matthew De Trane (1), Johnathan Hooper (1), Maxwell Irving, Nicholas Carniglia, Jacob Ehrhardt (1), Ashworth Molthen (1), Alex Roelse, Marko Vavic (1), Zackery Rhodes. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.


From 2-5 down three minutes into the second quarter, the Aussie Sharks struck back with a vengeance, led by the hulk of a captain Joe Kayes. The former New Zealander who honed his trade in Hungary, Kayes was an inspiration, especially with his second goal at 0:35 in the third, gaining the ball on counter, taking the 5m shot and scoring and then remonstrating with his defender. It was a match that Australia owned and fellow Olympian Jarrod Gilchrist and goalkeeper Ed Slade were the stars of a team that shone all night. USA had the better of the start after Australia led through Olympian Jarrod Gilchrist, such a standout player this week. Jacob Ehrhardt and Hannes Daube reversed the lead before Kayes equalised with a centre-forward backhand late in the period. Daube fired in his second in a three-goal spurt for USA with captain Alexander Obert clambering for a goal over slow defenders for 4-2. Johnathan Hooper, a leading goal-scorer this week, scored on counter and USA was safe at 5-2. It all changed in the next five minutes as James Fannon and Gilchrist on extra; Lachlan Hollis from the left brought the match level. Nathan Power, who so cruelly had to withdraw from the Rio Olympic team with injury, gained the ball from Kayes to take the 6-5 lead by halftime.  Gilchrist and Kayes took it to 8-5 in the third and Ashworth Molthen responded for 8-6. Kayes took the ball on extra and scored off a five-metre shot at 0:02 for the 9-6 three-quarter advantage. Luke Pavillard made it a four-goal lead on extra from deep right.  USA awoke and started to get on the road train with two quick goals from Matthew De Trane cross-cage and Marko Vavic from outside. Australian Olympian Johnno Cotterill made the trip up from Sydney for his first match and was kept busy all over the field. He had the honour of scoring a 4:44 penalty goal for 11-8. USA peppered the Aussie goal to no effect and went to a timeout at 2:36, still enough time to level the match. Nothing came of that while Kayes netted his fourth with an unrushed goal from two metres on extra at 0:30 to settle the encounter in the Sharks’ favour.

Flash quotes:

Elvis Fatovic (AUS) — Head Coach

"I was especially happy with the second half of our game — we started to play well in our defence and our attack was pretty sharp. But come Sunday it will be a very different game again. We controlled the game well in the second half, but if they (USA) had scored one more goal in the beginning they would have finished out the game with the win. We know both teams are so new, they both still have misunderstandings in the game, that is normal. In my opinion both teams are playing better and better each game because this was the first tournament since the Olympic Games.” 

Ed Slade (AUS) — Goalkeeper

“It was a good win, we played our systems pretty well and we made a good impression early on. We had a bit of a lapse in the second quarter, but it was a real testament to the boys’ effort to come up and make a reply and get a few goals on the board — it was real good hard work to get back in that place. I think our defence as a whole was really impressive and if we play the USA again on Sunday it will be completely different game. It will be a hard defensive game again and we just need to go back and review and look at what we did well and what we didn’t do well.”

Hannes Daube (USA) — Two goals

“We came out with a lot of energy and we knew it would be a tough game. We scrimmaged with them last week so we had an idea of what they were going to do. They came into our zone and we pressed the ball hard. I think we just had some slight mistakes that can be easily fixed. We were alert but relaxed after the early lead. If we meet them in the final we will probably keep it similar and fix the little things.”


Picture: McKinnon Media