Romania and Germany qualified for the Water Polo World Cup Super Final as the best two teams from Division 2.
On the last day of the tournament in Berlin, the playoff matches between the group winners and 2nd-placed teams were held. These were European-Asian derbies.
Romania and Germany aren’t among the best European teams, but they convincingly defeated their rivals, that have won many medals at the Asian Games and the Championships in the last several years.
Romania trashed China 18:9. Germany played excellently in defense and beat Kazakhstan 12:1 in the second playoff match.
Both teams had a perfect record in Berlin (4 – 0). Both teams arrived at the playoffs after winning top spots with nine points, in their respective groups.
I Besides Germany and Romania, the top six teams from Division 1 – Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Serbia and the USA – will play at the Super Final in Los Angeles (June 30 – July 2). Pairs of the quarterfinals (according to the standings in Division 1 and 2): Spain – Germany, Italy – Romania, Greece – Hungary, USA – Serbia
Iran beat Malta in the 5th-place match. South Africa finished 7th, ahead of New Zealand.
2023 Men’s World Aquatics World Cup, Division 2, Berlin, Day 3
Romania – China 18:9 (5:1, 5:1, 3:3, 5:4)
Romania: Tic, Neamtu 3, Lutescu 2, Fulea 2, Tepelus 1, Prioteasa 1, Bota 1, DInca, Antipa 1, Georgescu 3, Iudean 1, Vancsik 3, Dragusin. Head coach: Rath.
China: H.Wu, Z.Hu, C.Chu, J.Peng, J.Zhang 2, Z.Xie, Z.Chen 2, R. Chen, Y.Chen, Y.Liu 1 C.Zhang 4F. Tan, Z.Liang. Head coach: Porobic.
Germany – Kazakhstan 12:1 (3:0, 0:0, 7:1, 2:0)
Germany: Benke, Bozic, Korbel 2, Cuk, Schuetze 2, Juengling, Strelezkij, Chiru 3, Sekulic, Rotermund 1, Schipper 1, Gansen 3, Vernet. Head coach: Sekulic.
Kazakhstan: Balfanbayev, Tsoy, Panteleyev, Nedokontsev, Lamayev, Artyukh, Shakenov 1, Berbelyuk, Akhmetov, Satbergen, Kanysh, Shonzhigitov, Aday. Head coach: Obradovic.
Romania didn’t waste time and quickly earned a big advantage. The Europeans had a fantastic shot percentage in the first half – 10/14. The defense, commanded by Marius Tic, did its job as expected and Romania led 10:2 at halftime. Everything was already decided after 16 minutes. The Romanians maintained the difference until the last break. Two minutes before the end, Romania reached a double-digit margin. Victor Antipa scored for 17:7. Shortly after, Lutescu made it 18:7. The Chinese scored the last two goals in the match.
After a long time, Romania qualified for the major intercontinental competition. The Romanians haven’t participated in the FINA/World Aquatics competition since 2013 when it finished 13th at the World Championships.
Germany was 13th at the 2022 World Championships and won 4th place at the last-ever FINA World Cup, held in Berlin in 2018.
The current Water Polo World Cup is a replacement for the World League. Romania’s and Germany’s last participation in the World League Super Final was in 2007. The tournament was held in Berlin, just like this year’s Division 2 and the 2018 FINA World Cup. Germany won 4th, and Romania 6th place at the 2007 World League Final Eight.
Germany played well in the attack, but, as the result shows, a great defensive play was the key to the hosts’ win. The opening minutes were a battle between two strong defenses. In the 4th minute, Kazakhstan got a chance to take the lead from a penalty shot. But, the Asians’ most experienced player Murat Shakenov failed to score. His shot went wide. That was the turning point. Immediately after that missed shot, the hosts earned a penalty shot. Fynn Schuetze made no mistake from the 5m line. He sent the ball into the net for 1:0 and opened the Germans’ series. By the end of the first quarter, the hosts built a 3:0 lead. There were no goals in the second period. Both teams wasted three man-ups each.
Germany started rolling in the third period, added seven goals and jumped to 10:0. Kazakhstan got on the scoreboard only 45 seconds before the last break when Shakenov converted a man-up. Of course, it was too late.
Iran – Malta 15:9 (2:2, 4:3, 3:0, 6:4)
Iran: Yazdankhah 5, Malek 4, Ghavidelhajiagha 2, Berzegarisharifabad 2, Khoshbakht 1, Almasi 1.
Malta: Galea 4, N. Zammit 3, Abela 1, Fenech 1.
Iran was the only Asian team that beat the Europeans on the last competition day. It defeated Malta.
The Maltese had a 2-goal lead in the middle of the second quarter (5:3). But, Iran took control at the finish of the first half. The Asians scored nine consecutive goals, earned a 12:5 lead (the 28th minute) and secured a comfortable lead.
New Zealand – South Africa 7:9 (1:3, 1:1, 2:3, 3:2)
New Zealand: Wicken 4, Schuler 2, Gould 1.
South Africa: Gaber 3, Swanepoel 2, Wheeler 1, Laurenson 1, Stone 1, Tucker 1
New Zealand and South Africa, the two winless teams after the group stage, faced off in the 7th-place match. South Africa led for most of the time. In the 29th minute, the Africans went to 7:4 and New Zealand couldn’t come back, even though it fought hard until the end.