Group C — Sopron


The winner of the first FINA World Championships (1986) played its second match of the preliminary rounds in Sopron. Australia has entered the pool against trans-Tasman rival New Zealand. The teams last met in 2019. Both of them won their first match, so it was an action-packed clash in the Lover Swimming Pool. The Aussie Stingers’ defence has improved a lot from the first match, with just two goals conceded. The Kiwis played with heart and put everything in it, but failed to make an upset. Australia won 11-2.

Match heroes
The Australian defence. Gabriella Palm can be highlighted, defending six from eight attempts, which was a 75 per cent saving percentage. The top scorer of the game was Bronte Halligan with three goals, but there were seven other Aussie players, who scored at least one.

Bottom line
Australia was not sharp enough in the centre game, as it only managed to score three from nine attempts, but as head coach Paul Oberman said, the players are evolving from match by match.

What they said
Paul Oberman (AUS) – Head Coach
“I am very happy after this game. Important victory. We focused a lot on the defence after the first match, when we conceded too many easy goals. Everything is a progress; we are a developing team; we have only been together for four weeks and so we are still learning from each other. There are a lot of youngsters, who are newbies in the national tea; we have to get used to it. Now we go to the quarter-finals, which is a very good step in the early stage. We are here to win, but we are not dreaming about the final or semifinal yet, just the next game. There are two really big clashes tonight — USA-Netherlands and Hungary-Italy — we can watch them, because they can be our rivals in the knockout stages.”
Angela Winstanley-Smith (NZL) – Head Coach
“As we expected, it was a really physical game. Australia is an athletic team; they are really strong in these physical battles. I said to the girls to keep their mind, because the Aussies had to work hard to beat us, so I am really proud of them. We created a lot of opportunities. We came here to show everyone that we are competitive, but it’s still a long way to be better. All in all, I am satisfied. As a coach you cannot ask anything but play with heart, and they have done so. They are as tired physically as mentally. The match against Kazakhstan is coming in two days, which is important for us, so the first and foremost is regeneration, charge the batteries.”


The two winless teams faced each other in the second round of Group C. Brazil was beaten by New Zealand 12-8 while Kazakhstan lost 19-6 to Australia. The South-Americans started well and were leading 2-0, but after that Kazakhstan scored three goals in a row. The key period was the closing quarter when the Kazakhs had a one-goal advantage. They scored four in the last eight minutes, while Brazil notched only one and Kazakhstan goalkeeper saved 13 shots from 19 attempts during the whole match. Kazakhstan won a physical battle, and can get ready for New Zealand. Friday’s clash will decide second place in the group.

Match hero
That's obvious. Alexandra Zharkimbayeva, who could barely concede a goal this night. She saved 13 from 19 attempts, one penalty attempt and four of the stoppages in the fourth period. Unsurprisingly, she was named player of the match.

What they said
Marat Naurazbekov (KAZ) – Head Coach
“First of all, it’s a precious victory after a sweaty clash. We controlled the ball, but the first half was difficult. We could score more goals in the second and third periods, but in the crucial eight minutes we managed it, then it was the deciding factor. Our goalkeeper – who is our captain – played an important role in this success, she was outstanding. We played against New Zealand at the last (FINA) World Championships in 2019. At that time we won by penalties and finished 10th. Now we will play for second place in the group and I think we have a good chance to take it.”

Frank Diaz (BRA) – Head Coach
“It was a decisive game in this group for us. It would be great to win it. We could have more from this match, there were many close moments, but we cannot take our opportunities. Their keeper delivered a fantastic performance today and we couldn’t find a solution. Because of it, the girls became anxious, they did not even dare to shoot. It was a physical battle and my players got tired for the closing period. We know how difficult it is going to be against Australia; we will try to do our best even though they are an excellent team. Friday is a new day, hoping for the best.”

Group Progress Points: Australia 4, New Zealand 2, Kazakhstan 2, Brazil 0.