The group stage of the FINA World Men’s Youth Water Polo Championships has wrapped up with Hungary, Greece, host Serbia and Montenegro claiming group superiority and thus direct entry to the quarter-finals. In Group A, Hungary beat Kuwait 27-2 and Croatia downed Uzbekistan 21-6. In Group B, Greece sent off Turkey 18-6 and Netherlands took second spot with a 14-10 win over Australia. In the big Group C clash, Serbia held off Italy 16-13 and USA dumped New Zealand 13-5. Group D went Montenegro’s way with an 11-8 victory over Spain and Canada claimed third, edging South Africa 13-11.
Final Group Standings
Group A: Hungary 8, Croatia 6, Kazakhstan 4, Uzbekistan 2, Kuwait 0.
Group B: Greece 8, Netherlands 6, Australia 4, Brazil 2, Turkey 0.
Group C: Serbia 6, Italy 3, USA 3, New Zealand 0.
Group D: Montenegro 6, Spain 4, Canada 2, South Africa 0.
Match 33 12:00 4A UZB v 5B TUR
Match 34 13:30 5A KUW v 4B BRA
Match 35 15:00 2A CRO v 3B AUS
Match 36 17:30 3A KAZ v 2B NED
Match 37 19:00 2C ITA v 3D CAN
Match 38 20:30 3C USA v 2D ESP
Photos courtesy of Sandic Photography
CROATIA 21 UZBEKISTAN 6
Croatia set itself up with a clash against Australia in the second round after swimming through Uzbekistan with 7-2, 5-0, 6-3 and 3-1 quarters. It was a chance for every player to get involved ahead of the main action. The statistics all favoured Croatia and five penalty goals is a huge number in any match. Uzbekistan worked hard on defence and managed to find gaps in the defence, including a splendid pop lob over the goalkeeper on one occasion. Croatia will be well primed for the upcoming matches.
Robert Stojanac, Toni Radan, Vita Jankovic and Jaksa Zaratustra Mihaljevic all scored three times for Croatia while all the other field players made the sheet. For Uzbekistan, Daniil Krivoxijin maintained his No 1 ranking in the Belgrade scoring stakes with three from seven and a total of 18, three clear of the next player. Croatia converted three from nine on the extra-man plays and Uzbekistan none from three.
What they said
Mislav Bakaric (CRO) — Player
“This was the last game of the group; must win, of course, but it was actually preparation for the next round and next game, so it’s most important that we won this.”
Toni Radan (CRO) — Three Goals
“It was a training for us, for tomorrow. Tomorrow is our important game and we need to win, put our heads up from our last game against Hungary and win against Australia. In defence and attack, we need to be calm, not to hurry. I think we can win tomorrow if we correct that.”
KUWAIT 2 HUNGARY 27
Hungary made sure of victory for a fourth win and group supremacy, earning a day off ahead of the quarter-finals. Hungary took some time to get into the match and then rattled off four counter-attack goals to go into the second quarter 5-0 ahead. It scored a fifth in the second period, but Kuwait shut down that source of goals, with only one more later in the match. Kuwait scored its goals at 6-1 from a six-metre-free-throw shot and then at 17-2 with a strike from the left-hand-catch position. Hungary was 13-1 up at halftime and 21-2 at the final break.
Botond Balogh and Roland Gaszt scored five from five each as every Hungarian field player made the sheet. There were few opportunities on extra-man plays, with Hungary converting both its chances and Kuwait missing its only attempt.
What they said
Robert Kovacs (HUN) — Head Coach
“ Congratulations for my team for winning in their group. It’s a good step for us for the next round, which means we are in the quarter-finals. We are preparing for the next game and next round. They (players) are happy, but everyone knows why we came here, so we are focused all the time.”
Botond Balogh (HUN) — Player of the match
“It wasn’t an important or a hard game for us because we already won in our group. Now we have to train for our next games and concentrate on them.”
Abbas Baqer (KUW) — Goalkeeper
“It was a good game; we played as good as we can.”
AUSTRALIA 10 NETHERLANDS 14
Netherlands secured second ranking in the group with an interesting victory over Australia. The 5-3 quarter-time break was a portent of things to come, stretching that to 10-6 at halftime. At 11-6, Netherlands was on top and even though Australia closed to 11-7 by the final break and 11-9 on counter — the goalkeeper coming out to five metres to try and stop it — the Dutch were unfazed and scored the next three goals — two on extra and the middle goal on counter. William Valentine notched his second goal and 11th for the tournament to finish the scoring. There was plenty to talk about on the six-on-fives with both converting 40 per cent — Netherlands with six from 15 and Australia four from 10.
Lars Ten Broek rose above the crowd as 17 players scored while his contribution was four from eight attempts. He scored from penalty, extra-man attack, deep left to beat the buzzer at halftime and on counter late in the match. He is the second-highest scorer in Belgrade with 15 goals. Patrick Dart, Valentine and Spencer Burdack all scored twice for the Aussies.
What they said
Chris van de Dobbelsteen (NED) — Goal Scorer
“I think it was a tough game, but we won and that’s all that matters. We didn’t play our own game, we thought it would be a lot easier, but because we didn’t play our game, we were fighting with them and I think that’s way the score is so close.”
John Fox (AUS) — Head Coach
First of all, we improved from yesterday, which is a good sign. Intensity was much better and I was really pleased with our effort and ability to adapt because Netherlands is a good team. We probably were a little bit too heavy, which was shown by the exclusion board, but intensity was fantastic. I think the big thing that comes here is the experience. As I said yesterday, this is the first international tournament for all of these boys, so just that precious situation when we got two goals, just to keep that roll going and stop them from scoring the next goal. The boys are learning, so that’s a great thing.”
TURKEY 6 GREECE 18
Greece showed why it is one of the best teams here, with another dominant display. The extra-man plays still look good, converting five from 10 and the 11th goal came with a crisp eight passes, including both post men. Group victory was assured long before the match, but Greece went through the motions and led 5-0 at the quarter and 8-2 at halftime. This became 12-5 with a buzzer-beater goal to close the period. The 6-1 final quarter was also a formality. Greece will have a day off and contemplate the opposition in the quarter-finals.
Konstantinos Mathiopoulos scored five goals and was named best player. He favoured the left side of the pool and the deep-catch position on extra-man attack. His third goal was a boomer from nine metres. Andreas Almyras and Christos Bitsakos added to their tallies with three apiece. Mert Ali Yener continues to lead the Turkish scoring with two goals for 10 in Belgrade. Kemal Ata Caferli also scored twice.
What he said
Ilias Machairas (GRE) — Head Coach
“I think that we were the favourites for this game and I think that we won easily. Turkey showed many good elements and very clever moves. For us, it wasn’t an important game because before this we almost had the first position in the group and in our mind is just the next round.”
NEW ZEALAND 5 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 13
USA kept going for the whole match, breaking New Zealand down with constant ejections and conversions. USA earned 14 ejections and converted six, so the Kiwi defence was up to the task. New Zealand could only gain three and missed converting any. It may have been eight goals in the final reckoning, but the match was a close affair, the first quarter tied at three and halftime at four before USA went from 6-5 to 8-5 by the final break. The Kiwi attack died after the 3:55 goal on extra from the left-post position and for the next 12 minutes had to watch as USA surged away to 13-5. It was a flattering score for USA who now has three points from three matches and finishes third on the ladder heading into the crossovers. New Zealand has a rest day ahead of the classification 13-16 semifinals on Wednesday.
Christopher Arakelian was adjudged best in pool with three goals among the eight USA scorers. New Zealand’s highest was Ethan Carrington with two. New Zealand converted both penalty attempts and USA two from three.
What they said
Christopher Arakelian (USA) – Man of the match
“Props to New Zealand; they played their hearts out. I just think as a collective we were that much better.”
Cole Johns (NZL) – Player
“We’re really satisfied with how we played in the first half; it was pretty tough; we knew USA would be a great opponent and we kind of lost it in the second half. We’re hoping we’ll bring the same energy from the first half in our future games. Communication was a little bit off, but now we can reflect on that between sessions, and hope for better results.”
SERBIA 16 ITALY 13
In a high-fouling encounter, Serbia came out better on the extra-man count with 10 from 15 and Italy converted six from 16. It was not the total difference between the two as Serbia weathered the first-quarter storm that had Italy levelling at one, two, three and five. The real difference was Serbia’s five-goal effort in the second quarter that contained just two extra-man goals and, more importantly, kept Italy scoreless. This became a six-goal margin by the final break — 14-8 — and went to 15-9 on penalty to start the fourth. Italy won the fourth 5-2 and even had the score of 16-13 at 1:51 — still in with a chance. However, there the scoring died and Serbia was through to the quarter-finals. Italy will play Canada for the right to play in the quarter-finals.
What they said
Bogdan Brescanski (SRB) — Goal Scorer
“It's a solid team win. Could have been better, of course. The start was rough, even though our attack was functioning. From the first minute we were lacking in defence. It kind of crystalised in the second quarter and that was our best part of the game. Third was also good. In fourth, we thought the game was over, so we didn't start it well and you can see it by the results from that quarter.”
Antonio Florena (ITA) — Two Goals
“We played good against Serbia. It's probably the best team in this competition, so we are happy. We tried to beat them, but they are too strong for us.”
SPAIN 8 MONTENEGRO 11
Montenegro came from 5-3 down in the second quarter to snatch the lead on counter-attack (requiring a VAR decision) at 2:13 in the third period, then win by three goals. It was a terrific turnaround by Montenegro and gave it maximum points from the three matches, the group victory and a rest day, securing the quarter-final berth. Spain will need to go through the crossovers in the hope of making it to the medal round. Montenegro was 2-0 early, then Spain drilled in three goals for the 3-2 advantage before Montenegro levelled off a left-post shot. Spain scored twice to start the second quarter and Montenegro levelled at 5-5 on extra-man attack. Spain again asserted its strength from the right. However, big centre forward Nedo Bastrica backhanded from two metres to level and start to become a thorn in Spain’s side. Montenegro grabbed the lead on counter and both teams sat for more than 10 minutes as a goal-line rope was secured, just before three-quarter time. Three Montenegro goals, including a 9-6 centre-forward shot by Bastrica and then a tip over his head while heavily guarded for his fourth and 10-6 had the match squarely in Montenegro’s hands. Bastrica nailed a penalty for 11-7 and the final score went to Spain, but too late.
Bastrica held the key to victory with his stunning five goals and total dominance, lifting him to second on the scoring ladder, at the time (and now third), with 13 goals. Goalkeeper Andrija Bjelica stopped nine shots from the goalmouth. Hugo Castro, making such a stamp on the tournament for Spain, scored three to bring him to 10 in Belgrade. Montenegro won despite its poor extra-man count of one from eight while Spain netted four from 13.
What he said
Andrija Bjelica (MNE) — Goalkeeper
“It was a rough game. Spain is a very difficult opponent; we’ve played with them in the past and that was also the case. I think the thing that helped was our mentality throughout the whole game.”
SOUTH AFRICA 11 CANADA 13
This was a superb Commonwealth battle with Canada earning victory thanks to a 5-0 start. Had South Africa come to the party earlier, it could have been much different. As it was, South Africa won the last three quarters 10-7. South Africa had no answers to Canada’s “easy” shots to go five up. At 8-2 by halftime, the match was lost. This means South Africa won the second half 9-5, going into the final period with a distinct 12-6 disadvantage. The 6-1 final quarter for South Africa showed what it is capable of, something it will need in the latter part of the tournament. Sadly, that will be the play-offs for the bottom rankings. Canada, however, on the strength of that first-half performance, now has a chance to head towards the medal round when it takes on Italy — a tough assignment.
Matthew Pryce and Rhys Lomax were critical to South Africa’s involvement in the match and Pryce, in particular, was the dominant player with five goals from six attempts. His second-last goal typified his determination, working around the player and firing strongly for 9-13. He then converted the penalty for 10-13, giving his team hope. Lomax scored his fourth for 13-11 at 2:31 — well within the realms of gaining a draw, at least. Canada’s Adam Mekni and Adrial Oviedo-Ladik netted three apiece. South Africa had the better of the extra-man plays with three from seven and Canada missed four of its five chances.
What they said
Adriel Oviedo-Ladik (CAN) — Player of the Match
“I think we fought our best. We were winning for a while — we kept it going till the last quarter —fortunately for us we won the game.”
Aaron Tarr (RSA) — Player
“I think we messed up in the beginning and it left us just too far behind, but we came back as hard as we could even though it wasn’t enough. I think we didn’t do well enough in the first half to be able to come back up in the second.”