Greece beat Serbia 6-4 for the gold medal on the final day of the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships at the Al-Nasar Sport Club Kuwait.
Greece led 2-0 at the quarter and 3-1 at halftime with the third period scoreless. An action-packed final period had Greece 5-2 ahead and then 5-4 before Konstantinos Kakaris put the match beyond doubt two minutes from time. Goalkeeper Nikolaos Mitrakis, who was named the best of the tournament, repulsed many Serbian attacks to get his team over the line.
Greek captain Alexandros Papanastasiou, who won his second title, said after the ceremony: "It was indescribable going back to back. It was hard work, not luck. The team proved that if it could do it once, it could do it again. I wish to thank my team, my coaches for making this possible."
It was the third title for Greece, having won in Istanbul, Turkey in 2001.
Italy beat Croatia 9-6 for the bronze medal in a sour clash where two Croatian officals and two Croatian players were red-carded. Centre forward Ettore Novara was named best in water with four goals and was named best centre forward in the Media All Star team (below).
Spain secured fifth place with a 14-8 victory over Montenegro, Bernat Sanahuja — another All Star — claiming the match player award with his five goals.
In the first match of the day, United States of America managed to keep Japan at bay 19-14 for seventh position in an exciting scoring encounter with Marko Vavic netting five for the USA and Yusuke Inaba six for Japan, closing his scoring tally in Kuwait at an amazing 36. For this effort and his ability to keep his team in the competition until the final day, he was awarded the tournament's Most Valuable Player award.
Footnote: Iran and Kuwait have been disqualified from the tournament after their encounter on Thursday was abandoned in the third period for "illegal entering of substitute players into the field of play". They will not figure in the final placings.
Most Valuable Player
Yusuke Inaba (JPN)
Nikolaos Mitrakis (GRE)
Player of the gold-medal final
Ioannis Alafragkis (GRE)
Media All Star Team:
Goalkeeper: Nikolaos Mitrakis (GRE). Centre Forward: Ettore Novara (ITA). Field Players: Yusuke Enaba (JPN), Konstaninos Gkiouvetsis (GRE), Alexandros Papanastasiou (GRE), Bernat Sanahuja (ESP), Dorde Vucinic (SRB).
Top goalkeeper Nikolaos Mitrakis (GRE)
Match 69, 13:30, JAPAN 14 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 19
Match 70, 15:00, MONTENEGRO 8 SPAIN 14
Match 71, 16:30, ITALY 9 CROATIA 6
Match 72, 18:00, SERBIA 4 GREECE 6
7. United States of America
12. New Zealand
14. South Africa