Great excitements and big matches at the men’s water polo tournament at the World Championships in Gwangju are getting closer. The Group Stage was completed today. Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Italy advanced to the quarterfinals.
Hungary and Croatia qualified for the quarterfinals after Day 2. They confirmed their 1st places today, easily beating their respective rivals (Hungary thrashed South Africa 23:5, Croatia blew away Kazakhstan 21:5).
Serbia clinched the top spot in Group A with a great win over Greece (9:3). Italy managed to keep the first place in Group C thanks to a victory in a very close game against Germany. The Italians celebrated an 8:7 victory.
An encounter between the USA and Australia was, without doubt, the most interesting match of the day. The USA team defeated Australia by a goal (12:11) to secure the 2nd place in Group B.
The crossover matches will be played on July 21, while the quarterfinals are two days later
Quarterfinals (July 23)
Serbia (1A) – Spain (2C) or Japan (3D)
Croatia (1B) – South Africa (3C) or Germany (2D)
Hungary (1C) – Montenegro (A2) or Australia(B3)
Italy (1D) – Greece (A3) or USA (B2)
Semifinals for places 13 – 16 (July 21): South Korea – Kazakhstan, New Zealand – Brazil.
Serbia – Greece 9:3 (3:1, 3:2, 0:0, 3:0)
Serbia: Mandic 4, Lazic 2, V. Rasovic 1, Stojanovic 1, S. Rasovic 1.
Greece: Mourikis 1, Gounas 1, Fountoulis 1.
South Korea – Montenegro 6:24 (1:6, 1:4, 1:8, 3:6)
South Korea: Lee 2, Han 2, D. Kim 1, Song 1.
Montenegro: Ivovic 6, Murisic 3, Djurdjic 3, Ukropina 3, Spaic 2, Cuckovic 2, Radovic 2, Brguljan 1, Petkovic 1, Janovic 1.
Serbia played excellently in an encounter with Greece. This was a must-win match for the Olympic champions. They needed a win to clinch the 1st place in this very balanced group. Greece and Serbia had 3 points each before the match, but the Greeks’ advantage was a better goal difference.
As the final score says, the second half was crucial. Serbia kept the Greeks scoreless from the 2nd minute of the second quarter (the result was 4:3 at that moment) to the final buzzer. A young Serbian squad had a perfect conversion of the extra player shots. The Serbs had 6 man-ups in the first two quarters. They converted all 6 to goals. In the end, their extra player shot conversion was 7 of 9, while Greece had 10 opportunities to score with an extra man and they managed to find the net just once.
Defenses on both sides dominated in the third quarter, while Serbia secured a win with three goals in a span of 1:14 minutes early in the last quarter, and jumped to a 9:3 lead five and a half minutes from the end of the match. There were no goals in the remaining time.
Dusan Mandic was the top scorer (4 goals). Serbia’s goalkeeper Dimitrije Risticevic was also phenomenal (16 saves). Greece’s goalie Galanidis posted 9 saves.
The group play was ended with a match Montenegro – South Korea. After Greece’s loss, the Montenegrins didn’t have to hunt a goal difference, to climb into the 2nd place. They just have to beat the underdog. And they did it in an easy rhythm. South Korea scored 6 goals as well as Montenegro’s captain Aleksandar Ivovic.
1 Serbia 3 – 5
2 Montenegro 3 – 4
3 Greece 3 – 3
4 South Korea 3 – 0
USA – Australia 12:11 (4:3, 3:3, 2:2, 3:3)
USA: Cupido 3, Hooper 2, Obert 2, Daube 2, Vavic 1, Ramirez 1, Irving 1.
Australia: Kayes 2, Edwards 2, Younger 2, Roach 2, Howden 1, Ford 1, Cambell 1.
Croatia – Kazakhstan 21:5 (6:1, 5:1, 5:1, 5:2)
Croatia: Jokovic 3, Fatovic 2, Loncar 2, Benic 2, Vukicevic 2, Buslje 2, Vrlic 2, Garcia 1, Milos 1.
Kazakhstan:Zhardan 1, Pilipenko 1, Aubakirov 1, Shakenov 1, Shvedov 1.
The USA and Australia fought a hard battle for the 2nd place in Group B. The USA team was aiming a win, while Australia had to take at least a point to stay in the 2nd place.
The Americans opened the match with a 4:1 rush. It seemed that they would record a convincing win. The „Aussie Sharks“ answered with three goals to equalize (4:4) in the 11th minute. The USA team earned a 7:5 lead deep into the second period, and maintained a slim 1-goal or 2-goal advantage until the beginning of the last quarter.
Aidan Roach converted a man-up in Australia’s first attack in the 4th period to equalize (9:9). That was the beginning of a real thriller. The USA went on 10:9, the „Sharks“ equalized (10:10). Hannes Daube gave the USA a new lead (11:10) with a goal from a direct shot in a free-throw situation. Aaron Younger returned the terms on equal (11:11), by scoring from an extra player shot (3:10 remaining on the clock). Luca Cupido netted his 3rd goal (1:17 before the end) from a 6-meters free throw for the final score. Australia’s Nathan Power „helped“ Cupido, as he touched the ball, but he didn’t block the shot. The ball changed direction and confused a goalkeeper Dennelrey (who collected 18 saves this evening). Australia had the last possession, but Ford missed with 15 seconds left on the clock. After that, the Americans kept the ball and both points.
Titleholder Croatia was warming up for the quarterfinals. The Croats didn’t have any troubles against Kazakhstan. After three big wins, they finished the group stage with an excellent 52:16 goal difference.
1 Croatia 3 – 6
2 USA 3 – 4
3 Australia 3 – 2
4 Kazakhstan 3 – 0
South Africa – Hungary 5:23 (1:5, 2:5, 0:8, 2:5)
South Africa: Badenhorst 2, Le Roux 1, Evezard 1, Rodda 1.
Hungary: Zalnaki 5, Manhercz 3, Jansik 3, Angyal 2, Batori 2, Harai 2, Vamos 1, Meyei 1, Pohl 1.
New Zealand – Spain 3:23 (0:8, 1:5, 1:7, 1:3)
New Zealand: Brown 1, Stankovich 1, Clark 1.
Spain:Barroso 6, Granados 4, Cabanas 3, Perrone 3, Mallarach 3, Munarriz 1, De Toro 1, Larumbe 1, Fernandez 1.
Hungary, playing without injured Denes Varga, and Spain had no mercy in the last round of Group C. The battle for the 1st place in this group was over on Day 2 when Hungary defeated Spain (13:11). Today, the winner of the 3rd place was determined.
After a draw in the match South Africa- New Zealand on Wednesday, it was clear that the goal-difference would determinate who will clinch a spot among top 12 teams. South Africa had a better goal difference than New Zealand in the end and advanced to the crossover matches
1 Hungary 3 – 6
2 Spain 3 – 4
3 South Africa 3 – 1 (-38)
4 New Zealand 3 – 1 (-40)
Brazil – Japan 9:11 (2:2, 1:5, 3:3, 3:1)
Brazil: Guimaraes 3, Coutinho 1, Freitas 1, Real 1, Carrulo 1, Franco 1, Silva 1.
Japan: Shiga 3, Yoshida 3, Inaba 2, Okawa 2, Adachi 1.
Germany – Italy 7:8 (2:1, 2:3, 3:2, 0:2)
Germany: Eidner 3, Reibel 1, Gielen 1, Stamm 1, Cuk 1.
Italy: Di Fulvio 2, Aicardi 2, Luongo 1, Figlioli 1, Bodegas 1, Dolce 1.
Germany had a nice opportunity to upset Italy and climb into the 1st place in the group, which would be the biggest surprise in the Group Stage. However, the Italians, who needed a point to qualify in the quarterfinals, managed to keep the first place. Germany took a better start and was leading through the first half. The Italians found themselves 2:4 down in the middle of the second quarter. Italy came back in the match with three goals in a row and earned a slim lead early in the third period (5:4). Germany went in front again two seconds before the last break, by Mateo Cuk’s goal from an extra (7:6). Italy took control in the last eight minutes and earned both points (8:7). The Germans could be satisfied too, as they proved that they had been progressing in the past few years.
Brazil was leading in the opening minutes of the clash with Japan (1:0, 2:1). Japan then started rolling on and jumped to an 8:3 lead (17th minute). The Brazilians started climbing back deep into the third quarter and reduced the gap to 3 (6:9) in their last possession in the third quarter. They even came to 9:10 in the middle of the final quarter. But, Japan kept the win (11:9) and the third place in the group. They collected 4 points, as well as Germany. The Germans took the 2nd place because of a better goal difference.
1 Italy 3 – 6
2 Germany 3 – 4
3 Japan 3 – 4
4 Brazil 3 – 0