Japan and South Africa, playing their first Olympic Games, will take no more part in Tokyo 2020 as the unlucky losers in their groups. With just four teams in each of the five-team groups progressing, Japan lost to the Russian Olympic Committee 20-16 — the highest scoring match of the women’s competition — and South Africa kept Australia to 1-0 in the first quarter before losing 14-1. On Tuesday, the quarterfinals are being staged with some mouth-watering matches on offer.
Final Group Points:
Group A: ESP 6, AUS 6, NED 6, CAN 2, RSA 0.
Group B: USA 6, HUN 5, ROC 5, CHN 4, JPN 0.
August 3 Quarterfinal Schedule:
Match 24, 14:00, 4A CAN v 1B USA
Match 21, 15:30, 1A ESP v 4B CHN
Match 23, 18:20, 3A NED v 2B HUN
Match 22, 19:50, 2A AUS v 3B ROC
The Russian Olympic Committee finished in third position by defeating winless Japan 20-16 in the final Group B match.
Japan now departs the competition with two respectable high-scoring losses to Hungary (17-13) and China (16-11) and the tough opening match — 25-4 to Olympic champion United States of America. ROC has booked a quarterfinal clash with Australia, who beat South Africa in the final match of the night.
“Now we get to play Australia! It will be a very tough game and we will need to remain concentrated throughout. Australia have played really well throughout this tournament so far and we’re ready for the fight. We also played against them in the quarterfinals of the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju and we lost, but I hope this time we will play a much better game.” On beating Japan: “Japan play fast and have a very special water polo style, so scoring 20 goals against them was good for our confidence and we are now focusing on the quarterfinals."
The first quarter was enticing for the vocal Japanese “crowd” as it was locked at four and five by the final buzzer and that was after Japan took 4-3 and 5-4 leads. Akari Inaba, whose younger brother Yusuke plays on the Japanese men’s team, scored both go-ahead goals.
ROC screamed home five unanswered goals to progress from 6-5 down to 10-6 ahead — three on counter-attack and two of these to Maria Bersneva. Eruna Ura and Yumi Arima book-ended Nadezhda Glyzina and Alena Serzhantova goals for 12-8 by the close of the half. For Serzhantova it was her third and for Glyzina her second.
Bersneva netted a third to start the ROC scoring with Evgeniya Soboleva following on her heels. Kako Kawaguchi and Inaba responded for 14-10. ROC captain Ekaterina Prokofyeva converted extra and Arima had her penalty attempt blocked by ROC goalkeeper Anna Karnauk and then scored on Japan’s next attack from the top for 16-12. Serzhantova earlier picked up her fourth. Anastasia Fedotova netted her second and third for 18-12 by the final break.
The final quarter was just as frenetic, although Japan rolled in four straight goals, including two to Kawaguchi and Arima’s fifth, for 18-16. Russia called a timeout and Evgeniya Ivanova converted the extra-man chance for the three-goal differential. Japan’s timeout reaped nothing, but a block by Karnaukh. Then Kawaguchi had her penalty attempt blocked and Ivanova closed the scoring at 20-16 with six minutes left .
The final goal brought up 36 goals in the match, which surpassed the 35 goals in the China-ROC (17-18) encounter. This is the new style of water polo — fast, dynamic, with fewer referee calls, more action, more goals and greater spectator enjoyment. Expect this style of game to gain momentum around the globe.
Arima departs the competition as Japan’s leading scorer with 13 goals, which places her third on the scoring list behind current leader Simone van der Kraats (NED) with 19 and Spain’s Bea Ortiz (14).
Match 18, 18:20, Group B, RUSSIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE 20 JAPAN 16
Quarters: 5-5, 7-3, 6-4, 2-4.
Referees: Marie-Claude Deslieres (CAN), Dion Willis (RSA).
Shots: ROC: 20/44. JPN: 16/38.
Extra Man: ROC: 5/6. JPN: 9/19.
Pens: JPN: 1/3.
Anastasia Fedotova (ROC) — Three Goals
“We made a lot of mistakes and did not do well when one of our players was excluded. This was our last game before the quarterfinals and we took that chance to create opportunities. My team helped me to score a few goals>”
Makihiro Motomiya (JPN) — Head Coach
“We tried our best in the first half and we played better in the second. We improved our system. Our basic aim was to keep swimming and wear them out. We could have done better in the first half as that was our objective.” On Tokyo 2020: “This is our first appearance in the Olympic Games women’s tournament We tried our best. We knew the extension of one year would hurt us (due to Covid) as we needed overseas tours.” On next year’s Asian Games: “Our first aim is to become Asian champion.”
GROUP A,:AUSTRALIA-SOUTH AFRICA — 14-1
Australia made it three wins from four matches with a quarterfinal-preparation 14-1 victory over winless South Africa.
For Australia, it was a shaky start, held to 1-0 in the opening quarter and then rattling off a 6-1 second period, 4-0 and 3-0. In reality, South Africa played the defensive match of its life and two stopped penalty shots by goalkeeper Meghan Maartens were the icing on the cake.
South Africa was 14th at the Gwangju FINA World Championships in 2019 and can be proud of its effort in Tokyo, attending without the benefit of pre-competition because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
South Africa departs in 10th position with the first woman head coach in Olympic history — Delaine Mentoor. Its leading scorer was captain Jordan Wedderburn with three goals.
“This match we were trying to help our form to help us perform better in the quarterfianls. We will play ROC, which is a good, experienced team, good in counter-attack and has good centre forwards. We want to be more controlled.”
That opening quarter was incredible as South Africa was stout on defence, denying the Aussie Stingers entry to the goal until 1:57, when Zoe Arancini drilled one from outside.
The second period was started by Arancini and ended with Bronte Halligan countering and scoring on the halftime buzzer. In the meantime Amy Ridge fired in two, Lena Mihailovic scored after having her penalty attempt stopped by Maartens. She was enjoying the occasion with four stops in the half. Aussie captain Rowie Webster also scored for that 7-1 turnaround scoreline.
Elle Armit and Keesja Gofers netted their first goals in Tokyo for 9-1 and Mihailovic bounced one in from deep left, followed by Halligan’s second from the left-hand-catch position.
Maartens continued to be a thorn in the side of the Stingers with another penalty stop at the top of the fourth quarter when Matilda Kearns tried to breach her defence. In fact, Maartens clocked up nine saves. In a lower-scoring quarter it was left to Abby Andrews, Hannah Buckling and Gofers to close the scoring at 14-1. Hannah Calvert, South Africa’s second goalkeeper, slipped into the water in the last half minute for her Olympic debut, made the restart pass and denied Australia its final attempt at goal.
Match 20, 19:50, Group A, AUSTRALIA 14 SOUTH AFRICA 1
Quarters: 1-1, 6-0, 4-0, 3-0.
Referees: Daniel Daners (URU), Jeremy Chen (SNG).
Shots: AUS: 14/38. RSA: 1/12.
Extra Man: AUS: 4/8. RSA: 1/3.
Pens: AUS: 0/2.
Rowie Webster (AUS) — Captain
“It’s nice we’re through to the next phase. We didn’t execute the way we wanted. Any team that comes to the Olympic Games and gives its best is a great privilege, plus they get the experience and be Olympians for the rest of their lives.”
Delaine Mentoor (RSA) — Head Coach
On keeping Australia to 1-0 at quarter time: “Those little victories, those little mercies. Now we can build on this programme. Now we need to put that into play.” On playing the Olympic Games: “If anything, we are so grateful for our appearance so the world can see that we are on the world stage and we can give a run to the top teams and we have so much more to give.”
Meghan Maartens (RSA) — Goalkeeper Who Made Two Penalty Stops
“I get so nervous before them (penalty shots) and I’m in the air and try to follow the ball. It’s good to have hard players with such talent shoot at you. It’s such an honour to be shot at.” On the match: “ We decided to get everything out. It’s a once-in-a lifetime experience to make ourselves proud.”