Hungary and Serbia will face up in the gold-medal final of the FINA World Men’s Youth Water Polo Championships in Belgrade following similar victories in day-eight semifinal action. Hungary downed Spain 10-7 and host Serbia had to come from four down to defeat newcomer Netherlands 11-7. In the classification 5-8 semifinals, Italy beat Montenegro 19-15 and Croatia sent off Montenegro 11-7. In final classification matches, United States of America crushed Canada 23-6 for ninth; Australia thrashed Kazakhstan 22-3 for 11th; Turkey edged New Zealand 12-11 for 13th and Brazil bested South Africa 12-7 for 15th ranking.
Match 56 12:00 Greece v Montenegro
Match 57 10:30 Italy v Croatia
Match 58 18:30 Spain v Netherlands
Match 59 20:30 Hungary v Serbia
Classification 1-4 Semifinals
Photos courtesy of Sandic Photography
HUNGARY 10 SPAIN 7
Hungary guaranteed to continue its excellent form in this tournament, confirming tonight that it will be the fifth consecutive time that it will stand on the medal dais. Winner in 2014, Hungary was third four years ago, third in 2016 and finished runner-up in the red-card fiasco of 2012. It was a match of attrition with goals hard to come by as shown by the 1-0 opening quarter and the 1-1 second. It opened up in the third as Hungary pushed the margin out to four (7-3). The seventh goal came off a Spanish error, the defender-turned attacker passing the ball back to his goalkeeper, only for the uncapped Roland Gaszt to grab and score. It became 8-4 and then 8-5 as Spaniard Biel Gomila rose high in the left-post position, juggled the ball and then dragged it down to give his team hope. Vince Varga sent in a missile for 9-5 and Spain responded on extra. Gaszt converted the 10-6 extra and a last-minute score from the deep left by Gerard Gil closed the match.
Gaszt may have been the top scorer with four, but such was the defensive nature of the match that the award for player of the match went to Hungarian goalkeeper Viktor Gyapjas, not for the first time this tournament. He made a magnificent 12 saves to keep Spain at bay. Gaszt scored three in the third period, including a penalty and converted extra at 10-6, when most needed. Hugo Castro and Robert Lopez scored twice for Spain.
What he said
Viktor Gyapjas (HUN) — Player of the Match
“Defence was awesome in crucial moments, but this victory is a result of a team effort. We played like a team. Spain is an excellent team, but we analysed them and prepared for the game. We are looking forward to the final, and we want to win.”
SERBIA 11 NETHERLANDS 7
Serbia has not even been in the gold-medal final, let alone win the crown. Now is the opportunity to do that at home against Hungary on Friday, following a stirring come-from-behind victory over a gutsy Netherlands. The Dutch were an amazing four goals up after a blistering start and it was not until early in the third period, after a scoreless second quarter, that it levelled at 4-4. It moved to 6-4 and started to gain some dominance as the players gained more confidence, putting the first half behind them. The Dutch levelled on counter-attack at six with Serbia gaining bragging rights at the final break — 8-6. This turned into 10-6 after a score on extra and a centre-forward driving goal. It was the point at which Serbia was not to be beaten, closing with a goal apiece.
Nikola Kojic stepped up when needed most with five goals from 10 attempts for Serbia , two in the first -quarter comeback and two in the third before giving Serbia the 9-6 advantage in the last period. Lars Ten Broek sent in three for Netherlands to take him to the equal top of the leader board with 26 goals. Serbia made sure of five extra-man goals from 11 attempts. Netherlands could only convert one from seven — a four-goal differential that was the difference in the final score.
What they said
Marko Dimitrijevic (SRB) – Player
“The first half was really tough; we didn’t expect it to be this hard, but we know the Netherlands team; we know how they play and we know they wouldn’t give up. We managed to score some more goals in the third and the fourth quarters and that was the best part of our game.”
Marnick Snel (NED) – Player
“We knew it would be a very tough game because Serbia is great. We had a good start, but unfortunately in the last quarters we ran out of steam. We just knew if we start out good we’d have a better chance at winning, and with the pressure of the home audience it was hard not to; sadly it wasn’t enough.”
Classification 5-8 Semifinals
ITALY 19 GREECE 15
This was a match that had the spectators on edge and happy to see some wonderful goal-scoring. So many goals was amazing. It was close early on with the score tied at one, two, three, four five and six midway through the second quarter. Italy went to a two-goal advantage twice in the second before Greece pulled one back on extra for 9-8 at the long break. Italy went three up and a rebound backhand goal gave Italy a 13-9 lead in the third period, which closed at 13-10. Greece twice came back to two down until Italy went from 14-12 to 17-2. Goals were traded to 19-13 and Greece gained two consolations goals, but no invitation to the fifth-place play-off.
Matteo Bragantini collected the match award for five goals from eight attempts and 12 in Belgrade. Emanuele Marini scored four more. For Greece, Andreas Almyras was probably best in pool with six goals from seven attempts and boosts him to a team-high 17 goals. On the extra-man count, Italy had the better percentage at five from 10 to Greece’s six from 19.
What they said
Alberto Angelini (ITA) – Head Coach
“It was a tough game; many exclusions for us, but we wanted to play pressing all the time because with Hungary and Serbia at the end we lost because we got many goals in tie. That’s why we played like this in this kind of match with no pressure for medal; we can enjoy. We are young team, so we have to play on speed and a little bit of luck and today we showed ourselves. They (the boys) learned that they have to sacrifice more during the season and during the preparation in summer. They can go up and I think they learned that.”
Matteo Bragantini (ITA) – Player of the Match
“It was a tough game, since the beginning, it was goal for goal, but in the end we stayed as a team and won.”
CROATIA 11 MONTENEGRO 7
Croatia won through to the fifth-place play-off against Italy with 3-2, 2-4, 2-0 and 3-1 periods. As shown, there was nothing in it up until early in the third when Montenegro converted a penalty foul for 6-6. It had been level at two, three and four before Croatia went two up at 6-4. The Montenegrin sixth goal was the last for some time as Croatia took a hold on the match and shifted the score to 11-6, giving up a centre-forward lob in the last 10 seconds. Croatia was sixth in 2018 and Montenegro seventh, so similar positions await on Friday.
Patrik Kolak was on song with five from eight and collected the award for best in pool. This elevates him to 13 goals for the tournament. Montenegro’s Nedo Bastrica was one of three players to score twice, lifting him to 17 goals in Belgrade. Extra-man attack paid dividends for Croatia with six from 13 while Montenegro struggled at two from nine.
CANADA 6 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 23
United States of America finished best of the American continental teams with ninth position, running Canada ragged after a close start where USA was 3-2 up at the quarter and 8-2 at halftime. The score moved on to 17-5 at the final break. Ten USA players scored in the frenzy and the victory was backed up by USA’s fantastic extra-man count of 12 from 16. Canada replied with two from seven. USA filled the same position four years ago, one behind its best of eighth in 2012. Canada was 17th last time out and 10th equalled its previous best finish of 2014.
John Burghardt was named best in the match with his four goals from six attempts. Ben Liechty also scored four. Peter Castillo’s three goals lifted him to top of the USA table with 13 goals. Adriel Oviedo-Ladik netted twice while Giancarlo Marquez grabbed one to top Canada’s scoring with nine.
What they said
John Burghardt (USA) – Player of the Match
“It’s obviously not the way we intended to finish, but it’s a good win. We finished well; we played as a team. We all wanted to get first, but it’s hard. Still, I think we played really well.”
Liam Sterne (CAN) — Goalkeeper
“It was a very good game and we kept it together in the first quarter, but it fell apart after that, because we weren’t able to keep up, especially with all the kickouts and exclusions. It was good overall — we finished in the 10th place — which is pretty nice considering it’s the best we’ve ever finished, and we’re happy about that. This is a big event for us; we’ve never been at an international competition, especially in this age group. We’re happy with this tournament.”
AUSTRALIA 22 KAZAKHSTAN 3
Australia closed its campaign with 11th position, three down on 2018 and its lowest in five visits. The best was seventh in when hosting in Perth in 2012. It was a third win after beating Brazil and Turkey in the rounds. For Kazakhstan, it was an improvement on 14th and 15th positions in the past. Australia swam away with the match at 6-0, 12-0 and 17-1 at the breaks. Kazakhstan gained its first goal from outside, the second from two metres on extra and the third at 19-3 from the top. Nine Aussies scored.
Spencer Burdack and Harrison Miller both scored four goals in the rout with Burdack claiming the player-of-the-match award. William Valentine finished top of the Aussie scoring with 13, adding one today. For Kazakhstan, Yegor Beloussov scored twice and ended with 11 for the week.
What he said
Spencer Burdack (AUS) — Player of the Match
“We worked hard on the defence and that’s what helped get us on the scoreboard. I think we would have hoped for a better result, but this was our first international experience, so it was also a time to learn. Our goal is to improve, get better.”
TURKEY 12 NEW ZEALAND 11
Turkey held out New Zealand for 13th classification in its second appearance at this level, claiming sixth when playing at home in 2014. Turkey had an ace in Efe Kuloglu, whose six goals proved to be the difference between the teams. He scored from the top and with a six-metre lob in the first quarter, but where he did the damage was in the third quarter where he scored three goals, from centre forward, on extra-man counter where he stole the ball, gained the kick-out and sauntered off to score; and then deep left for 10-7. His 11-9 counter goal was important, coming soon after the Kiwis brought the match to one with a smart, high pass to centre forward Andrei Soldatovic to score his third. Turkey went three ahead with a centre-forward lob that the goalkeeper touched into goal and needing a VAR decision. At 2:54, Turkey was safe, although New Zealand converted extra at 2:31 and gained a penalty at 0:16 — too late. New Zealand replicated its 2018 finish, but still a long way from 10th in 2012. Following the match, the Kiwi supporters produced a stirring traditional Maori haka challenge from the grandstands and the Kiwi team lined the pool deck and repeated the effort to thank its retinue.
Kuloglu was best in water with six goals from eight shots for Turkey, making him the team’s highest scorer with 17 goals, one ahead of Mert Ali Yener who was scoreless today. Soldatovic, with three goals — 13 for the week — and Mitchell Keightley both scored three. New Zealand did best on extra, converting five from 10 to Turkey’s three from seven.
What they said
Efe Kuloglu (TUR) – Player of the Match
“We played well, but I think we can do better; we’re not satisfied with our position because we could have done better.”
Mitchell Keightley (NZL) – Three Goals
“I think both teams played really well. I think the results are a fair reflection. I think we should have used our speed a little bit more; we let the number five shoot too many times and he scored quite a few goals. We were lacking in defence.”
SOUTH AFRICA 7 BRAZIL 12
Brazil gained a third win in Belgrade — beating Kuwait and Turkey on the way — by defeating South Africa by five goals. It was a slip from 11th in 2018, but showed potential for the future. Brazil went 3-0 at the start of the match and finished the first period 3-1 up, fended off South Africa for 4-3 at halftime and then did the damage in the third, winning it 4-0 with two counter-attack goals and two on extra. The last was tied where three consecutive penalty fouls were awarded, Brazil converting two and South Africa one. Two players were red-carded — South Africa’s Joshua Saayman in the third period and Brazil’s Paulo de Oliviera in the fourth. The South Africans were 15th in 2018 — its highest finish at this level.
Artur Diaz was player of the match with five goals, taking him to 15 for the tournament. Fabiano Gomes, kept scoreless today, finished top scorer for Brazil with 19. South Africa’s Matthew Pryce scored four goals to lift his final tally to 17 and was one of the revelations of the tournament. On extra-man attack, Brazil was four from 11 and South Africa could not breach the defence, missing all seven opportunities.
What they said
Joao Pedro de Barros (BRA) – Goalkeeper
“The game was intense, but we got an advantage in the beginning, so that helped us. My coach is very happy with our defence. We were connected and played as a team.”
Nathan Jacob (RSA) – Goalkeeper
“It was a tough game and we gave our all; we’re just happy to be in the tournament. We were tired; we have done a lot of training before this.”