Medal semifinals were decided in day-seven action at the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships in Prague. Serbia and Hungary will clash in the first semifinal and Italy will take on Montenegro on Saturday evening. Hungary dumped reigning champion Greece’s long run of victories with an 11-9 margin.
Serbia will play Hungary and Italy will front Montenegro in Saturday’s semifinals at the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships at the Swimming Complex Podolí, in Prague.
In the sudden-death quarterfinals, Serbia defeated Croatia 12-10, Italy bested Spain 11-9, Hungary downed double returning champion Greece 11-9 and Montenegro blasted United States of America out of the water 17-5.
Photos courtesy of Total Waterpolo — https://total-waterpolo.com/
Greece’s demise came after victories in 2017 and 2019 and it will have to battle it out in the round 5-8 classifications, starting with Croatia. In the third quarterfinal, Hungary was always the aggressor, taking extra-man-attack chances early and twice holding a four-goal advantage in the third quarter (7-3 and 8-4). It became 9-5 in the fourth before Greece clawed back goals, including two to captain Efstathios Kalogeropoulos. It was too little, too late and Hungary’s Vince Vigvari nailed two in the last, including the all-important 10-7 strike at 1:58 from the left-hand-catch position. Hungarian captain Akos Konarik was instrumental in the victory with five goals, including those that took his team ahead by four each time in the third quarter.
In the first quarterfinal, Serbia beat Croatia 12-10, coming back from 5-3 and 6-5 down in the second quarter. Croatia levelled at 8-8 late in the third period thanks to identical goals on extra-man attack from Roko Akrap with Serbia heading into the last quarter a goal ahead. Three goals in the first three minutes of the fourth period was all that was needed for Serbia to fend off Croatia. Vasilije Martinovic, with Serbia’s first three goals and another in the fourth, was named player of the match.
In the second quarterfinal, Italy needed a penalty shootout to beat Spain 11-9 after the match was locked at 7-7 by fulltime. There was never more than a goal difference and Spain led four times, but required an equalising goal 32 seconds from time through Albert Ponferrada on extra. In the shootout, Spain missed twice while Italy nailed all four, including goals from captain Filippo Ferrero and Matteo Iocchi Gratta who had earlier each scored twice from the penalty line. They both scored four goals as did Spain’s Marco Valls. Italian head coach Alberto Angelini was red-carded late in the third period after gaining a yellow in the second. He will probably be sidelined for the semifinal.
The fourth quarterfinal was easily taken out by Montenegro, surpassing United States of America 17-5, starting with a six-goal quarter (6-4) and closing with another (6-0). Jovan Vujovic was the best in water with five goals.
In the classification 9-12 semifinals, the big outside shooter Bruno Chiappini made certain of victory with seven goals as Brazil defeated South Africa 16-5. Germany then upset Russia 8-7 by never being headed, leading 4-1 midway through the second period. Russia brought the match to 5-6, 6-7 and then 7-8 at 3:31, but could not bridge the gap. Egor Vasilev (RUS) and Niclas Schipper (GER) scored three each.
In the classification 13-16 semifinals, Argentina beat Slovakia 9-3 despite losing the third quarter 2-0. Tizziano Conti (ARG) was the best scorer with three. Argentinian Ignacio Setti gained a red card with 43 seconds left in the match. Kazakhstan defeated Egypt 7-5 on the strength of a 3-0 third period and fending off a late Egyptian charge in the final quarter after a one-goal advantage at halftime. Emil Vilin, Daniil Hrtyukh and Olzhas Kanysh top-scored with two goals apiece.
In the classification match 17-18, Czech Republic beat Uzbekistan 19-10 in a match where both teams had free rein to shoot and score, finishing their tournament experience with a flourish. Three players scored four goals — Shakhzad Turgunov (UZB) and Ondrej Curda and Canak Rames (CZE).
Saturday’s matches see eight more teams depart the tournament with the final classifications from nine to 16 while the 5-8 group plays its semifinals and the medal semifinals completing the programme.
Classification 1-8 quarterfinals: Croatia 10 Serbia 12 (1-3, 5-3, 2-3, 2-3), Spain 9 Italy 11 in penalty shootout. FT: 7-7. Pens 4-2. (2-2, 2-1, 2-2, 1-2), Hungary 11 Greece 9 (3-2, 2-1, 3-2, 3-4), Montenegro 17 USA 5 (6-4, 4-1, 1-2, 6-0).
Classification 9-12 semifinals: South Africa 5 Brazil 16 (2-4, 2-5, 1-4, 0-3), Russia 7 Germany 8 (0-2, 3-4, 3-2, 1-0).
Classification 13-16 semifinals: Argentina 9 Slovakia 3 (1-0, 4-1, 0-2, 4-0), Kazakhstan 7 Egypt 5 (1-1, 2-1, 3-0, ).
Classification 17-18: Uzbekistan 10 Czech Republic 19 (1-4, 4-6, 2-4, 3-5).
For Classifications 15-16
09:00 L50 Slovakia v L52 Egypt
For Classifications 13-14
10:30 W50 Argentina v W52 Kazakhstan
For Classifications 11-12
12:00 L53 South Africa v L54 Russia
For Classifications 9-10
13:30 W 53 Brazil v W54 Germany
For Classifications 5-8 Semifinals
15:00 L55 Croatia v L57 Greece
16:30 L56 Spain v L58 United States of America
For Classifications 1-4 Semifinals
18:00 W55 Serbia v W57 Hungary
19:30 W56 Italy v W58 Montenegro