Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Gold Coast, Australia, April 27.— United States of America and Australia collected third victories on the third day of the men’s water polo FINA World League Intercontinental Tournament at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre today. 

USA defeated China 18-6 in the first match and China is now in the danger zone for qualification for the Super Final.

Australia outlasted Kazakhstan 10-3 in the last match for three wins, one on penalty shootout.

Japan gained its first win of the week with the second 18-6 result of the day. New Zealand was on the receiving end of what was a fantastic start by Japan.

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: USA 9, AUS 8, KAZ 3, JPN 4, CHN 3, NZL 0.



Quarters: 5-0, 4-1, 6-2, 3-3

Referees: Damir Temyrkhanov (KAZ), Dragan Stampalija (CRO).

Penalties: USA: 2/2. CHN: 1/1.

Extra Man: USA: 5/5. CHN: 0/5.


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Alexander Wolf, Nolan McConnell (1), Hannes Daube (2), Alexander Obert (3), Matthew De Trane, Johnathan Hooper (6), Maxwell Irving (1), Nicholas Carniglia (1), Jacob Ehrhardt, Ashworth Malthen, Alex Roelse (1), Marko Vavic (3), Zackery Rhodes. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.

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


USA proved too strong for China with a stunning first quarter that had China reeling. China did not get on to the board until the match was long lost at 8-1 three minutes from halftime. By then, USA was in control and a host of players had made the scoreboard. From the opening goal from centre forward and captain Alexander Obert, USA showed it was here to play and what evolved was a tidal wave of agility, speed, interaction and goals aplenty.

Johnathan Hooper had Obert had three each by halftime with goals coming on counter, from outside — 10m in the case of Olympian Alex Roelse’s rocket — at 3-0. China’s lone goal came off a cross pass to Wen Hui Lu who fired in as the goal nearly collapsed in the wash. Hooper’s fourth goal showed his true class and speed, porpoising himself forward with the ball held high in front of him and then still having the fuel to ignite a shot past the goalkeeper — 10-1 and the second half was off to a great start. The lead went to 12-1 before China struck again, via a long lob from Zhong Xian Chen. He scored again at 14-3 after a Chinese timeout. However, USA increased the score to 15-3 with two penalty strikes in the third-quarter tally and the last a drive from Hooper for his fifth goal. The action was just as intense in the final period despite the margin with the athletic Hooper collecting his sixth goal. China scored three more — two on action and from the penalty line — and two more USA players made the scoresheet. 

Flash quotes:

Alexander Rodriguez (USA) — Assistant Coach

“It was nice to play with good energy and counter-attack and be able to compete for four quarters. Jon Hooper played well on offence and Alex Obert did great at centre.”

Johnathan Hooper (USA) — Six goals

"Good game. We just played our game and tried to control the pace, limit our turnovers and play as a team. China tried to slow down the pace of the game, keep possession of the ball, so we tried to push the counter-attack. We limited our turnovers, tried to counter and get the ball into our extra man. As we move on in the tournament we are getting to know each other's characteristics a little more and what they each bring to the table. We've played like four or five days together as a team and I think we're doing well. You always want to win the tournament, hopefully we can get that. We are 3-0 right now and hopefully we can improve as we move on.” 

Ling Yun Mao (CHN) — Head Coach

“It was a very fast start by the Americans and we took time to adapt. Our players are small and they were pushed around under the water, which we were not expecting. They were slippery, perhaps it was sunscreen, I don’t know. They were small factors that came together.  In the third quarter we defended a little closer so we improved in the second half, pushing more, being physical against them. We have to improve our passing as so many times we passed to the centre forward and they crowded us and stole the ball. They are better than us at that. There are a lot of things to work on to improve for later games.”


Picture: McKinnon Media 

Match 8, 16:50, NEW ZEALAND 6 JAPAN 18

Quarters: 0-4, 4-5, 1-4, 1-5

Referees: Haziel Ortega (USA), Anlong Meng (CHN).

Penalties: JPN: 1/1.

Extra Man: NZL: 1/2. JPN: 5/9.


NEW ZEALAND: Sid Dymond, Matthew Lewis (1), Matthew Morris, Ryan Pike, Callum Maxwell, Matthew Small (3), Anton Sunde, Liam Paterson, Sean Bryant, Matthew Bryant, Jerome McGuinness (2), Sean Newcombe, Bae Fountain. Head Coach: Goran Sablic.

JAPAN: Katsuyuki Tanamura, Seiya Adachi (4), Shuma Kawamoto (1), Mitsuaki Shiga (2), Takuma Yoshida (1), Atsuto Iida (2), Yusuke Shimizu, Mitsura Takata (1), Atsushi Arai (2), Kohei Inaba (3), Keigo Okawa (1), Kenta Araki (1), Tomoyoshi Fukushima. Head Coach: Yogi Omato.


When a team goes 5-0 ahead it makes it hard for the trailing team to come back into the match. Japan showed all its speed and agility with unanswered four goals in the opening quarter and progressed to 5-0 on the first attack in the second quarter. Kiwis are nocturnal birds from New Zealand and it seems as the sun had well and truly set on the venue, the Kiwi water polo men awoke and replied with two goals. The fact that New Zealand could compete in this period was excellent. While Japan had four different scorers, Kiwi captain Mathew Small netted twice to bring it to 3-7. However, Kohei Inaba also scored twice and then the first goal in the third. That quarter showed what both teams could do, especially the lightning speed of Seiya Adachi, a two-goal scorer earlier in the match. He scored twice more in the fourth with speed again the driving factor. Any faster and he would be pulled over for breaking the limit.

Flash quotes:

Yoji Omoto (JPN) — Head Coach

"Happy with how we played. Today, our speed and counter-attack was not so good. Second and third quarter we got our counter-attack going. Against USA and Australia we couldn't play our style of game as they are very strong teams. We are just trying to make it to the Super Final. New Zealand are a pretty young team, they are big finishers. They will certainly be a stronger team in the future. New Zealand coach Goran, he used to coach in Japan so we know his style and he knows our style." 

Goran Sablic (NZL) — Head Coach

“The problem is in defence. They are not pressing hard enough with no contact. The ball comes in and then we go for them.”

Picture: McKinnon Media

Match 9, 18:10, AUSTRALIA 10 KAZAKHSTAN 3

Quarters: 4-1, 0-1, 3-0, 3-1

Referees: Michael Brooks (NZL), Vojin Putnikovic (SRB).

Penalties: Nil

Extra Man: AUS: 5/13. KAZ: 2/12.


AUSTRALIA: Ed Slade, Luke Pavillard (2), Tim Putt, Joe Kayes (2), Nathan Power, Andrew Ford (2), Jarrod Gilchrist (3), Rhys Holden, James Fannon, Lachlan Hollis (1), Nicholas Brooks, Anthony Hrysanthos. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.

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


The Aussie Sharks made it three wins from three matches, starting well, struggling in the second quarter and then gaining the ascendancy in the third before going on to a handsome victory. Australia went three up inside the first four minutes and it wasn’t until the final minute that Kazakhstan shooting sensation Murat Shakenov let loose. Aussie skipper Joe Kayes, one of two Olympians in the match, smashed in the 4-1 goal with 23 seconds left on the clock. It was a dour second quarter where both teams either sprayed the ball or had shots blocked. The only shining light was for Roman Pilipenko and he scored that on the first attack. No goal came until 4:58 in the third when Jarrod Gilchrist, the other Rio Olympian, scored when three players were excluded from the pool — two from Kazakhstan and one from Australia. There was little joy for Kazakhstan from then on with Andrew Ford nailing his second and Gilchrist grabbing a third to close the quarter at 7-2. Kayes and Luke Pavillard inflicted more pain for 9-2. After a Kazakhstan timeout, captain Yevgeniy Medvedev converted extra-man attack, gaining his team’s third goal, exactly 19 minutes after the second. Pavillard netted a second for 10-3 at 3:14, which proved to be the final goal. Australia’s Tim Putt and Nathan Power failed to see the end of the match, as did Kazakhstan’s Bolat Turlykhanov — all in the torrid fourth period.

Flash quotes:

Elvis Fatovic (AUS) — Head Coach

“I am happy with the result, but I wasn’t happy with our performance, especially in the second quarter. We started to play without discipline in our game. Then in the second half we started to play with our strong defence, but also started to respect the ball in our attack as well, which resulted in the win. We have had too many wrong passes and that is something we will want to correct. I think the most important is that in defence we are going pretty well, but we want to avoid the four minutes like we did in last night’s game (when Japan came back to level the match and go to a shootout).

Jarrod Gilchrist (AUS) — Three goals

“I’m really happy with how we played. We worked really hard in our extra-man defence, in particular. We watched some video of their (Kazakhstan) first two performances, but coming into the tournament they were a bit unknown, but that’s part of world water polo. You’ve just got to play against who ever comes up at each tournament. We spend so much time travelling overseas it’s nice to be home competing.”

Nemanja Knezevic (KAZ) — Head Coach

“Australia was very strong. Today we did not play the first and third quarters well, but the second was a good result (won 1-0). Our man up was very bad (2/12). Physicality is the problem. Australia is bigger and my team smaller. My centre forward is only ’96 born. Today we had a lot more attacks. Yesterday against the USA, not so many. We worked for exclusions (today) for no results. Tomorrow we play a very important match against New Zealand to go to the Super Final. We must be stronger and must win.”


Picture: McKinnon Media