South Africa downed Brazil 8-7 to claim 13th classification in Szeged. The African team was one place better than Gwangju 2019 and Brazil was one placing lower than Budapest 2017 as it did not qualify for 2019. In the play-off for 15th classification, Thailand came from 6-4 down in the third period to defeat Colombia 10-6. It was a tremendous effort for their first visits to the FINA World Championships.
Classification Finals — Szeged
SOUTH AFRICA 8 BRAZIL 7
It was a huge battle and a close match for 13th place. Brazilian head coach Frank Diaz wasn’t happy with his player’s performance last time, and was furious after this match, because Brazil failed to win the game and let the underdog beat it by one goal. The first two quarters ended up in a tie with 2-2 and 3-3, and the teams went silent for so long in the third quarter, but Brazil capitalised from one chance, but in the last quarter they rushed too much and made some mistakes, which led to a 3-1 South African win.
Brazil had a one-goal lead in the third quarter, but it was hot-headed and let South Africa score three goals in the last quarter.
Stats don’t lie
Brazil failed to score from penalties, while South Africa converted three from four. The difference was the same in save percentage, too — South Africa with 61 per cent and Brazil with 27 per cent.
Both teams had lack of experience at the international level, but they learnt and improved a lot and will be ready for the next tournament.
What they said
Delanie Mentoor (RSA) — Head Coach
“It was incredible. Brazil is a strong team and the intercontinental score against teams who we played is massive. I think the big thing that the goals went in is fearlessness. I just wanted them to play for each other towards our game plan. I’m very proud of them, regardless how close it was and we were never the favourites to win that. It was an incredible tournament. My goals came out, they worked hard, and how we finished, it’s unbelievable.”
Shakira January (RSA) — Two Goals
“I’m very happy. I think we played the best game in the whole tournament. South Africa showed a huge improvement, and showed that we can compete at an international level. We played for each other and it’s great to see, so that’s why I’m smiling. It was amazing to see our boys supporting us and some of the parents and it’s nice to have a crowd like that.”
Frank Diaz (BRA) — Head Coach
“They were determined, they tried to win, but we lost our concentration. Lack of international games was a bit of a problem; it was good for gathering experience. It was good being involved in this competition, seeing the players do their best.”
Mirella Coutinho (BRA) — Three Goals
“I think they were just better, calmer and more smooth. We were rushing a little bit, because we wanted to win. It was amazing, because we gained a lot of experience. We are a very young team, never been to a championship before, but we are glad to be here. Right now, we need to rest and have some fun.”
COLOMBIA 6 THAILAND 10
The Thai teenagers performed miracles in the water, while Colombia couldn’t finish the tournament with a single win. Both teams came here knowing this is the last chance to show what they can do and avoid the last place. It’s always special to see the bottom teams playing for a better result, almost like playing a final. Both teams missed a couple of chances in the first quarter, which ended up in a draw, while in the second Colombia took the lead by one goal. In the third, Thailand was chasing the equaliser, but only made a draw period. In the last, Thailand seemingly raised from the ashes and scored five goals unanswered and won the match.
Valentina Restrepo could not do more for her country, scoring five from 10 shots. Kronkran Puengpongsasakul’s three goals in the dying stages helped her team to win and won the player-of-the-match award.
Everything was close till the last quarter. Thailand started to swim finally and scored as many as the whole game before.
Colombia will definitely learn from that experience and will be back stronger. Thailand has a bright future with that young team, but next time it might face China and Japan for the qualification.
What they said
Natalya Rustamova (THA) — Head Coach
“I’m very happy, it was our dream, maybe not in the last game, but finally we fulfilled our dream. I was sure that we would win this game from the first second, but we had some bad periods. In the last quarter we turned the tables and won it. Before the last quarter I told them to wait and concentrate and swim more, because I knew that we were better at swimming. It was an amazing tournament, perfect organisation, lovely city and we loved to be here, so, thank you, Hungary.”
Wataniya Nilklad (THA) — Athlete
“We are extremely happy, proud of my team. We learnt a lot, how to play against bigger players, because we are small and young, but it was an amazing experience. We improved a lot for the future. Now we can sleep a lot.”
Bladimir Lopez (COL) — Head Coach
“Our focus got lost by the end of the fourth quarter. We were learning from every game, fighting for every game, but it didn’t come out as we expected. It was nice to show the world that Colombia can play water polo at a high level.”
Valentina Restrepo (COL) — Five Goals
“I think the start of the game was good. Later we got exhausted and made mistakes that cost us the game. We tried to show the world that Colombia can play water polo.”