The 19th World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships Belgrade 2017 gave us tons of incredible plays and goals up to today’s semi finals. Water polo can rest easy after seeing the raw talent that countries across the globe have to offer for the future. Today’s semi finals were no exception: Hungary met Croatia in the first Semi Finals, while Serbia played Greece in the second game. Fun fact – the same four national teams were able to reach the semi finals during this years spectacular Water polo World Championships in Budapest two weeks ago, only the pairings were switched.
The first match up left us in awe as we were able to see the rejuvenated rematch of the Water Polo World Championship Finals. The Hungarian selection met the Croatian youngsters in a heated and evenly matched duel. Both defenses were rock solid and didn’t permit many goals, especially the goalkeepers brought their A-game and denied the incredible shooters their success. The Croatians were able to pierce the hungarian defense with two power plays towards the end and celebrate a two goal victory (6:4).
Croatia’s Head Coach Nikica Gulin commented after the game:“We had a good start, then a nervous middle section from both sides but at the end we were able to adjust our defense and execute our power plays. Today’s key was our strong defense. We knew if we dont allow the hungarians more than 5-6 goals we are winning tonight’s match.”
Duje Pejkovic, Croatia’s left forward, had the following to say after the exhausting match:“The Hungarians are always a strong and unpleasent opponent. I believe we justified our role as a tournament favourite tonight, which we definetly are. We played a strong tournament up untill now and were able to continue our perfomance tonight. They were not able to pierce our solid defense. The hungarians have a quality line-up, but we were a little better tonight. A new match is awaiting us tomorrow, and hopefully, so is a new victory.”
In the second game Greece played Serbia and managed to defeat this year’s hosts with a close 9:8 victory. Greece showed up with little fear for the favourised hosts and got the advantage early on. Serbia continuously tried to catch up, but the greece defense together with their goalie managed to endure all their attacks.
Iordanis Masmanidis, Greece’s Number 11, commented after the game: “We expected it to be tough, we expected it to be rough. We were ready for this game since I dont know when. We have been waiting for this for the past year and we have been wanting to play. It was magnificent to be back and I am really glad to have been able to play this game.”
Upon asking about tomorrows final against Croatia he commented: “Tomorrow is a different game and now we have to relax a little bit, we have to stay calm and have to follow what our coach says. It’s a different game and we have to discuss it tonight.”
Theodors Lorantos, Greece’s head coach, had the following to say: “We were prepared for this, we are ready for these close games. This is a crucial moment. We showed character in our game, for us it’s a big celebration until now. It’s always hard to play outside. Congratulations to Serbia and also to my players.“His comment for tomorrows chance against Croatia, with the crowd on their side, was: “We came prepared to play against any crowd. That is our phsychological mentality which we have been working on for more than two months. When you play away from home and if you want to win the championship, you have to be able to play against any crowd.”
After such intense semi finals we can’t wait to see what tomorrows finals have in store for us – make sure to tune in and follow up on everything inside and outside the pool of Belgrade 2017.