Men's World League 2014, Day 3: Hungary and Serbia finish rounds undefeated

World League

Hungary and Serbia won their groups on the third day of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex. Hungary started the day’s proceedings with a 16-9 victory over the United States of America to clinch Group B unbeaten while in the second match, reigning champion Serbia — gunning for a record eighth title (including two as Serbia & Montenegro) — defeated Brazil 12-4 after a heavy morning’s training.

Montenegro, stung by a huge loss to Serbia on day two, rebounded with a hard-fought 9-8 score against China in the last round match to secure second spot in Group A. China stood up and could leave the arena with pride.

With Hungary wrapping up Group B, the final places in the group came down to the Australia-Canada clash. Canada won 10-8 in an historic result as the Canadians have not beaten the Aussie Sharks for 10 years. This meant the group became a three-way tie for second as Canada had lost to USA earlier and Australia had beaten USA. It came down to the goal differential between the three teams and Australia’s four-goal win over USA gave it a plus-two margin while Canada and USA had minus one. Australia finished second and it came to a second tiebreak to separate the other two teams and USA grabbed third spot after its come-from-behind 12-9 victory on Day 1. For Canada it must grate after securing the brilliant win, only to finish fourth and see the team it beat go second and an easier route to the semifinals.

Match 9: 14:30, Group B, HUNGARY 16 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 9
Quarters: 3-1, 4-2, 5-2, 4-4
Referees: Filippo Gomez (ITA), Adrian Alexandrescu (ROU)

Extra Man: HUN: 5/9.  USA: 4/11.
Pen: HUN: 1/1.

HUNGARY: Viktor Nagy, Miklos Gor-Nagy, Norbert Madaras (3), Balazs Erdelyi, Marton Vamos (2), Norbert Hosnyanszky, Daniel Angyal, Marton Szivos (3), Daniel Varga (4), Denes Varga (1), Marton Toth (2), Balazs Harai (1), Attila Decker. Head Coach: Tibor Benedek.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: McQuin Baron, Nick Bell, Alex Obert, Michael Rosenthal, Anthony Daboub, Conner Cleary, Josh Samuels (4), Bret Bonnani (2), Alex Bowen (1), Nolan McConnell, Jackson Kimbell (1), John Mann, Jon Sibley. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.

Hungary did what it needed in beating the United States of America, not expending too much energy, easing home with a third victory and a clean sweep of Group B. Norbert Madaras scored twice on counter inside the first 100 seconds and the die was set. Alex Bowen responded for USA and then Marton Szivos began his excellent run for the match. He came into the match with three goals and finished with three for a tally of six this week. His first was from eight metres for 3-1. Marton Vamos and Bret Bonnani traded goals early in the second quarter before Szivos, son and grandson of Olympic champions Istvan Szivos Senior and Istvan Szivos Junior, scored on extra and then with a drive for 6-2. Joshua Samuels and Marton Toth exchanged goals just before halftime — 7-3. Madaras and Samuels moved the score to 8-4. Toth threw in a loose ball from a clearing swat by USA goalkeeper Johnathan Sibley and captain Daniel Varga progressed the margin to seven at 11-4 on counter. Samuels, who plays for Budva in Montenegro, nailed his third on extra, but on the next attack Denes Varga converted a penalty for 12-5, which closed the quarter. Daniel Varga opened the fourth-period scoring on extra. USA’s sole London Olympian, centre forward John Mann, took a cross pass on one metre to convert extra-man attack for 13-6 and 5:05. The teams then threw triples — Vamos, Balazs Harai and Daniel Varga slipped the score to 15-6 and Jackson Kimbell and Samuels, with his fourth, followed by Bonanni on extra — made it 15-9, the final score.

HUN vs USA - credit: Russell McKinnon

Tibor Benedek (HUN) — Head Coach
“We played three tough games against very strong, physical teams. It is very difficult, but tomorrow the competition starts (quarterfinals). I said after the first game that we should play better game by game. When we play Montenegro and Serbia, we have to be prepared.”
On having achieved what he set out to do in the group stage: “I prefer to play a motion game. We play with a lot of movement. I think it is nice to see.”

Marton Szivos (HUN) — Three Goals

“I think it was a good start. We worked so hard. I think we played better today than before. I am very happy with my performance.”

On his family’s Olympic tradition of father and grandfather winning Olympic golds: “I am proud of our family tradition.”

Dejan Udovicic (SRB) — USA Head Coach:
“Generally we had a good game. I am satisfied with the effort and motivation. We made some naive mistakes and turnovers.”
On the improvement from the day before: “It’s normal to go up and down, especially when you play games back to back. Playing at this level each day is good for team development. We will take everything we can from this.”

Josh Samuels (USA) — Four Goals
“We started a little slow. But attacked harder towards the end. I still need to get a little bit more used to European players, which playing in Montenegro has helped with. As a team we just need to always start strong.”

Match 10: 15:50, Group A, SERBIA 12 BRAZIL 4
Quarters: 3-1, 5-1, 3-1, 1-1
Referees: Joseph Peila (USA), Hatem Gaber (EGY).

Extra Man: SRB: 3/8. BRA: 3/9.
Pen: SRB: 1/1.

SERBIA: Gojko Pijetlovic, Dusan Mandic, Zivko Gocic (1), Sava Randelovic, Milos Cuk (5), Dusko Pijetlovic, Slobodan Nikic (2), Dusan Markovic, Nikola Raden, Filip Filipovic (2), Andrija Prlainovic (2), Stefan Mitrovic, Branislav Mitrovic. Head Coach: Dejan Savic.
BRAZIL: Vinicius Antonelli, Jonas Crivella, Guilherme Gomes, Gustavo Coutinho, Marcelo Franco, Bernardo Gomes (3), Adrian Delgado (1), Felipe Silva, Bernardo Rocha, Ruda Franco, Gustavo Guimaraes, Danilo Correa, Thye Bezerra. Head Coach: Ratko Rudic.

Milos Cuk made sure that his team went through undefeated to Thursday’s quarterfinals. He scored twice in the previous two matches and tonight netted five times by three-quarter time. He scored twice on extra and from loose positions with the fifth a nice drive completed with a soft lob into the top right. He scored twice in the 3-1 opening quarter, once in the second after sharp left-hander Filip Filipovic nailed two and Serbia went through to 8-1. Adrian Delgado arrested the Brazilian slide on extra for 8-2 at halftime. Bernardo Gomes rifled in a shot — his second — from the top for 8-3 at the start of the third period before Serbian captain Zivko Gocic took a cross-cage pass on extra for 9-3. Cuk progressed the advantage to 11-3 by the final break with his lob — five goals from six attempts and seven for the week. Slobodan Nikic ended a frustrating fourth period for Serbia where the wood proved a major obstacle, scoring off a rebound from close in at 2:14. Bernardo Gomes claimed his fourth on extra with four seconds remaining for 12-4.

SRB vs BRA - credit: Russell McKinnon

Dejan Savic (SRB) — Head Coach
“If someone was looking at this game, they would see a big difference in the movement of the players from yesterday. We used these first matches for preparation.”
On the best point of the three matches: “We had very good defence. It was what I wanted of my players, so we can be satisfied.”

Milos Cuk (SRB) — Five Goals

“I think we prepared very, very well for the quarterfinals with our three victories. It’s good I got five goals, but it’s about the team and we have a very important job tomorrow.”

On his skill of shooting: “I learnt from my coaches (in Vojvodina — Dejan Stanojevic — and Partizan — Vladimir Vujasinovic and Igor Milanovic). I hope we can go all the way because we played very well in the first three games and I hope we can do it this time.”

Ratko Rudic (CRO) — Brazil Head Coach
“The result was what we expected. We expected Serbia to win as they are clearly the strongest here, but it was a good test for us and in the beginning we played well and were organised, but later we made more mistakes and let them counter attack. There was a lack of concentration.”

Match 11: 17:10, Group B, AUSTRALIA 8 CANADA 10
Quarters: 2-3, 2-2, 3-3, 1-2
Referees: Sergio Borrell (ESP), Aleksandar Adzic (MNE).

Extra Man: AUS:  2/6. CAN: 4/5.
Pens:  CAN: ½.

AUSTRALIA: James Clark, Richie Campbell (3), George Ford, John Cotterill, Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist, Aidan Roach (1), Aaron Younger (2), Lachlan Edwards, Tyler Martin (2), Mitch Emery, William Miller, Edward Slade. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.
CANADA: Robin Randall, Constantine Kudaba (2), Oliver Vikalo, Nicolas Constantin-Bicari (5), Scott Robinson (1), Alec Taschereau (1), Kevin Graham (1), Dusan Radojcic, John Conway, Zacchary Kappos, Jared McElroy, Dusan Aleksic. Head Coach: Alex Beslin.

This match was never going to be easy and was destined to be the match of the day. Canada played like it did early in its first match with USA on Day 1 and went on to score an inspiring victory. A two-goal advantage before the Aussie Stingers woke was just what head coach Alex Beslin ordered. The intensity stayed for the rest of the match as Canada went 3-1 and then 5-3 late in the second quarter. Canada kept going ahead for 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7 through Constantine Kudaba with just four seconds left of the third from the five-metre line when Australia was disputing the shot. It was Nicolas Constantin-Bicari who motivated Canada, scoring a total of five goals and eight for the tournament with three goals when 5-3 ahead. It was left to Australian captain Richard Campbell to spearhead the revival with three goals. Canada missed a penalty attempt at 5-5, which could have derailed the result, but the Maple Leafs were steadfast. Constantin-Bicari scored probably the best and most important goal of the match when he tipped in a high pass on the left post over his head past James Clark for 9-7 at 7:23. The Sharks struggled to find a gap and turned over the ball with simple errors. Tyler Martin drilled a late outside shot for 8-9 at 3:39 to give Australia a chance. Australia went to a timeout and stout Canadian defence meant no shot was fired. Canada bounced one over the bar and Campbell’s shot at the other end was blocked by goalkeeper Dusan Aleksic. Canada called a timeout at 1:32, still 9-8 ahead. Younger was excluded for his third major foul and Constantin-Bicari tipped in a cross-pass point blank for an incredible 10-8 victory.

USA vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Alex Beslin (CAN) — Head Coach
“We came late to this tournament (mentally) and we should have beaten USA. We were targeting second in our group and aiming for a four-goal difference. Game by game we have improved and our defence was tighter.”

Nicolas Constantin-Bicari (CAN) — Five Goals

“We haven’t beaten this team in 10 years and it was really good for us. It’s always good to help the guys to win the game and it was really awesome to score five goals. It’s not about the team in front of us. This tournament is really about us."

"We try to remain focused and have lots of energy and I think we did a really good job today. We improved from the USA game where we let the game go in the second half but today we stuck it out for the 32 minutes.”

Elvis Fatovic (CRO) — Australia Head Coach
“That’s how we look when we think we are good.”

Tyler Martin (AUS) — Centre Forward
“It was a slow start today and we couldn’t really get ahead, going goal for goal. We let in lots of soft goals. The team is fairly young and needs more big-game experience.”

Match 12: 18:30, Group A, CHINA 8 MONTENEGRO 9
Quarters: 2-3, 1-1, 2-4,
Referees: Edmundo Rodrigues (BRA), German Moller (ARG).

Extra Man: CHN:  0/4. MNE: 1/5.
Pens: CHN: 1/1. MNE: 2/2.

CHINA: Zhiwei Liang, Feihu Tan (2), Lun Li (1), Zekai Xie, Junliang Guo, Ning Pan, Zhongxian Chen, Liang Gu, Tao Dong (1), Jinghao Chen (2), Chufeng Zhang (2), Nianxiang Liang, Chengcheng Qiu.
Head Coach: Paolo Malara.
MONTENEGRO: Zdravko Radic, Drasko Brguljan, Vjekoslav Paskovic (1), Antonio Petrovic (1), Darko Brguljan (1), Dragan Draskovic (1), Mladan Janovic (1), Uros Cuckovic (1), Jovan Saric (1), Nikola Murisic, Filip Klikovac (2), Predrag Jokic, Milos Scepanovic. Head Coach: Ranko Perovic.

Montenegro is finding that playing without three key members is tough in any competition. Losing big time to Serbia on Day 2, Montenegro needed to get its game back on track and did that, but slowly, against a much-improved China. Two quick opening goals flattered Montenegro, but China levelled, went two ahead early in the second only to see a dogged China pull one back at 5:55 and the match stay goal-less until halftime. Whatever was said at halftime seemed to have an effect as Vjekoslav Paskovic and Dragan Draskovic converted extra-man plays for 6-3. Chinese captain Feihu Tan converted a penalty and scored again for 8-5, either side of Filip Klikovac centre-forward goals and a Darko Brguljan penalty goal. Klikovac scored earlier on counter. Montenegro looked stronger but China was refusing to lie down, as seen by Tan’s strike from the top over the head of the centre forward and defender. China was still there in the final quarter with Tao Dong sending in a shot from downtown Dubai for 8-6. Antonio Petrovic replied, but Jinghao Chen scored his second for 9-7 at 4:16. Time was running out for China, easing some of the pressure off the agitated Montenegrin head coach Ranko Perovic. However, the crowd was on its feet as Zhang netted a second goal from well outside at 1:37. China lost an opportunity in the last minute through not shooting, but had the last 21 seconds to equalise but the long pass to Liang Gu tickled the fingers and could not be grabbed so Montenegro survived what could have been an embarrassing loss.

MNE vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Paolo Malara (ITA) — China Head Coach

“I’m very happy with my team. I was hoping for 9-9, but I was very happy with the result. We can take away a lot. We had a good mentality and played well. It’s good experience playing these matches.”

Dragan Draskovic (MNE) — Driver
“China played a really good game. We are very tired. We trained very hard this morning. China played very fast and it was very difficult for us.”