Men's World League 2014, Day 4: Montenegro-Hungary and Australia-Serbia semifinals set

World League

Montenegro, Australia, Serbia and Hungary eased into the semifinals on quarterfinal day of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex. Montenegro will face World champion Hungary and Australia will front reigning champion Serbia in Friday’s semifinals.

Montenegro opened the day’s proceedings with a stuttering 10-4 victory over an out-of-sorts United States of America. Mladan Janovic (MNE) provided the spark with four goals as his team only led 4-2 at halftime. Australia, beaten by Canada on day three and with just one victory in Dubai, defeated Brazil 14-7, a team that triumphed over the Aussie Sharks at the Intercontinental Tournament in Shanghai last month. Australia’s victory was constructed on five-goal hauls in the first and third periods.

Serbia shrugged off Canada 16-11 in a high-scoring match that saw Canada playing at the peak of its powers against a team vying for a record eighth FINA World League crown. The teams were evenly matched in the middle two periods and in the final quarter — won 7-5 by Serbia — Canadian head coach Alex Beslin was red-carded and will miss the 5-8 semifinals.

In the final match, Hungarian head coach Tibor Benedek feared for the safety of his players in the last quarter against China before winning 13-5. It was a physical encounter in which Hungarian captain Denes Varga scored four goals to lift him to nine for the tournament.

Match 13: 14:30, Quarterfinal, MONTENEGRO 10 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 4
Quarters: 2-0, 2-2, 3-0, 3-2
Referees: Sergio Borrell (ESP), Vojin Putnikivic (SRB).

Extra Man: MNE:  3/6. USA: 3/5
Pens: Nil.

MONTENEGRO: Zdravko Radic, Drasko Brguljan (2), Vjekoslav Paskovic (2), Antonio Petrovic, Darko Brguljan (1), Dragan Draskovic, Mladan Janovic (4), Uros Cuckovic (1), Jovan Saric, Nikola Murisic, Filip Klikovac, Predrag Jokic, Milos Scepanovic. Head Coach: Ranko Perovic.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: McQuin Baron, Nick Bell, Alex Obert, Michael Rosenthal, Anthony Daboub (1), Conner Cleary, Josh Samuels, Bret Bonnani (1), Alex Bowen (1), Nolan McConnell, Jackson Kimbell, John Mann (1), Jon Sibley. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.

Montenegro has struggled in Dubai and today was no different, especially with a first-half that lacked lustre. Some glimpses of Montenegro’s better times came in the third period and the semifinal berth was assured. It took Montenegro five and a half minutes to breach USA’s defence through Vjekoslav Paskovic. A second goal came in the last half-minute of the first period via Drasko Brguljan after extra and after a timeout. USA’s first goal came from captain and centre forward John Mann nearly three minutes into the second quarter. Then Mladan Janovic struck twice — from the top and from deep left on extra for 4-1. Alexander Bowen netted his fifth goal of the tournament at 1:29 for 4-2, the last score of the half. Montenegro strung together three quick goals at the start of the third and the match was blown open. Uros Cuckovic, Janovic with his third from deep left on extra and Drasko Brguljan on counter with a closing lob had the match at 7-2. Darko Brguljan stretched the margin to six at the start of the fourth period and USA responded with an extra-man goal from deep left by Bret Bonnani. Janovic fired in from top left to top right for 9-3 at 3:55 when the match was beyond USA. Anthony Daboub did not think so and scored off a free throw from outside 10m at 3:25. Paskovic scored the first and last goal of the match when he converted counter at 0:37 for 10-4.

MNE vs USA - credit: Russell McKinnon

Ranko Perovic (MNE) — Head Coach
“We changed our approach today. We must do hard work. We always want to win. For tomorrow, who knows?”

Drasko Brguljan (MNE) — Two Goals

“We played very well today. We didn’t play so well in the group play. They have two very good centres so we had to play very good defence. It will be difficult as we are missing three very good players. We expect to play Hungary. They play very fast. If we counter attack like we did today we should have a good chance.”

John Mann (USA) — Captain
“I think we didn’t execute very well; that was the bad part of it. Obviously we’re growing as a team; we can’t come out like that so we have to play a higher level and come back tomorrow and improve. I don’t think you can ever be satisfied with yourself; you have to keep improving. There’s so many things we need to work on. Obviously this is not the result we were looking for so we have to keep driving and growing.”

Match 14: 15:50, Quarterfinal, BRAZIL 7 AUSTRALIA 14
Quarters: 1-5, 5-3, 0-5, 1-1
Referees: Adrian Alexandrescu (ROU), Balasz Fekete (HUN).

Extra Man: BRA:  3/7. AUS: 6/8.
Pens: BRA: 1/1.

BRAZIL: Vinicius Antonelli, Jonas Crivella, Guilherme Gomes (1), Gustavo Coutinho, Marcelo Franco (2), Bernardo Gomes, Adrian Delgado (1), Felipe Silva (2), Bernardo Rocha (1), Ruda Franco, Gustavo Guimaraes, Danilo Correa, Thye Bezerra. Head Coach: Ratko Rudic.
AUSTRALIA: James Clark, Richie Campbell, George Ford, John Cotterill (1), Nathan Power (3), Jarrod Gilchrist (3), Aidan Roach (1), Aaron Younger (3), Lachlan Edwards (1), Tyler Martin, Mitch Emery (1), William Miller (1), Edward Slade. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.

Australia dominated the first quarter and Brazil dominated the second. Australia shut out Brazil in the third and the last was tied 1-1. It was a fine match-up between two teams who battled in Shanghai at the Intercontinental Cup qualifying tournament where Brazil won 9-6. Today there was a 13-goal turnaround for Australia, who garnered a tournament-best six from eight on extra-man attack. It also pitted the two Croatian coaches from the successful London Olympic Games — Head Coach Ratko Rudic and his assistant Elvis Fatovic. Marcelo Franco opened the scoring for Brazil, but it was nearly eight minutes later before he scored Brazil’s second goal. In the meantime, the Aussie Sharks rattled in six unanswered goals from six different players in a skillful display. Franco and John Cotterill made it 7-2 early in the second quarter. Brazil scored three goals to one, all off extra-man attack and Brazil’s three were devastating, especially captain Felipe Silva on the post. His second goal was dragged back at one metre from a withering cross pass. William Miller became the eighth different scorer for Australia at 8-4. Brazil’s Adrian Delgado narrowed the margin to two from a five-metre shot to close the half at 8-6. The match swung Australia’s way in the third with three quick goals, two from Younger for his second and third and the other from Jarrod Gilchrist for his second. At 11-6, it was the second time Australia had a five-goal margin. After a break for Aidan Roach to replace his cap, Gilchrist netted another stunner and his third from deep right. Power gained a second on counter to finish the third period at 13-6. He scored his third on extra at 4:36 in the fourth quarter and was fouled out in the last two minutes. Brazil arrested the slide with a penalty success to Guilherme Gomes straight after — 13 and a half minutes since the last Brazilian strike. Both teams shut up shop for the last four minutes.

BRA vs AUS - credit: Russell McKinnon

Elvis Fatovic (CRO) — Australia Head Coach
“Unfortunately we had to learn from our mistakes and that’s what happened from yesterday and even during this game today because we played a really good first quarter and in the second quarter we gave up five goals and the next quarter we played really good. Against teams like Serbia, Montenegro and Hungary there’s no comeback when that happens. We must insist on strong defence and then we can play well."
Nathan Power (AUS) — Three Goals
“We haven’t been ourselves this trip, so it’s good to get the team unity again. Today was all about playing with Aussie pride and the boys came out firing in the first quarter. Seeing the guys play like they should and claiming goals is good to see. It was good to finally stick it to a team and play as a unit.”

Ratko Rudic (CRO) — BRA Head Coach

“We didn’t play as we can play. We played very badly on defence. They are organised well. When you start bad and not psychologically ready at any part of the game, it is bad.”

Marcelo Franco (BRA) — Two Goals
“It’s very disappointing. We train to win games. Our target is fifth place so we must win our next game.”

Match 15: 17:10, Quarterfinal, SERBIA 16 CANADA 11
Quarters: 4-1, 3-3, 2-2, 7-5
Referees: Filippo Gomes (ITA), Ziliang Chen (CHN).

Extra Man: SRB: 5/8. CAN: 3/7.
Pens: CAN: 1/1

SERBIA: Gojko Pijetlovic, Dusan Mandic (2), Zivko Gocic (2), Sava Randelovic (1), Milos Cuk (1), Dusko Pijetlovic (3), Slobodan Nikic, Dusan Markovic (1), Nikola Raden (1), Filip Filipovic (3), Andrija Prlainovic (1), Stefan Mitrovic (1), Branislav Mitrovic. Head Coach: Dejan Savic.
CANADA: Robin Randall, Constantine Kudaba, Oliver Vikalo (1), Nicolas Constantin-Bicari (3), Scott Robinson (1), Alec Taschereau (1), Kevin Graham, Dusan Radojcic (1), John Conway (2), Zacchary Kappos (1), Jared McElroy (1), Dusan Aleksic. Head Coach: Alex Beslin.

Serbia went through to the semifinals as expected, but it was the impressive display of Canada that made people sit up. Fresh from an impressive 10-8 victory over eventual semifinalist Australia, Canada played consistent water polo and kept pegging back Serbia’s advantage. This was ably assisted by the excellent centre-forward work of Nicolas Constantin-Bicari who scored the first three Canadian goals. His first goal came from a superb high cross-pass from captain Kevin Graham. At 1-1, Serbia was fired up and took the match to 6-1 two minutes into the second quarter. Constantin-Bicari needed two attempts to gain his second goal and muscled in his third from two metres for 7-3. Scott Robinson converted extra-man attack and Canada was back in the match at 7-4 by halftime. Dusan Mandic opened the second half for Serbia, but Canada netted twice more for 8-6. Brilliant left-hander Filip Filipovic grabbed his second for 9-6 at 1:49. Skipper Zivko Gocic and Nikola Raden took the score to 11-6. Alec Taschereau caught Serbia unawares and then Dusko Pijetlovic scored a pair, one from impossibly wide of the goal with goalkeeper Dusan Akesic on top of him and then with a defender burying him at two metres. Canada’s Dusan Radojcic scored a nifty goal from deep right. Stefan Mitrovic, the highest goalscorer in the Hungarian league this season, made it 14-8. Zacchary Kappos (CAN) drilled a shot from the deep left and Andrija Prlainovic converted extra-man attack. Inside the final minute, Canadian head coach Alex Beslin was red-carded — meaning he will miss the 5-8 semifinals on Friday — for disputing a referee call after previously being warned twice and yellow-carded. This spurred three goals with John Conway converting a penalty, Mandic replying and Conway with a lob from a five-metre throw to close the spirited match.

SRB vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Filip Filipovic (SRB) — Two Goals

“We conceded too many goals. It’s not a good preparation for tomorrow’s game against Australia. We have great shooters in our team from 13 players we can choose from. Tomorrow is a big match. Our target is the final. I saw Australia train last week and I was very impressed.”

Nikola Raden (SRB) — Centre Back
“It was very difficult for us against Canada as they are a very specific team. In the beginning there was a little pressure. We are expecting to win our semifinal. We came here for first place. Canada didn’t allow us to get easy goals, which was good, but they scored many goals near the end of the game when we were well ahead. The most important thing was that we kept Canada to under five goals in the first half.”

Alex Beslin (CAN) — Head Coach
“We did play much better than previous games, but we gave them a couple of easy goals at the very beginning and that cost us the most. It wasn’t easy; we missed a couple of easy chances and these are things we need to fix and it cost us a four-goal difference.”

Jared McElroy (CAN) — Goal Scorer
“We came in expecting a tough match. We played three strong quarters. I don’t think anything went wrong; we played pretty well overall as a team.”

Match 16: 18:30, Quarterfinal, CHINA 5 HUNGARY 13
Quarters: 1-3, 1-4, 1-3, 2-3
Referees: German Moller (ARG), Mikhail Dykman.

Extra Man: CHN:  3/11. HUN: 0/4.
Pens: CHN: 1/1. HUN: 1/1.

CHINA: Zhiwei Liang, Feihu Tan (1), Lun Li, Zekai Xie, Junliang Guo, Ning Pan, Zhongxian Chen (1), Liang Gu, Tao Dong (2), Jinghao Chen, Chufeng Zhang, Nianxiang Liang (1), Chengcheng Qiu.
Head Coach: Paolo Malara.
HUNGARY: Viktor Nagy, Miklos Gor-Nagy, Norbert Madaras, Balazs Erdelyi (1), Marton Vamos, Norbert Hosnyanszky (1), Daniel Angyal, Marton Szivos (1), Daniel Varga (3), Denes Varga (2), Marton Toth (4), Balazs Harai (1), Attila Decker. Head Coach: Tibor Benedek.

Hungary moved into the semifinals with a solid workout against an improved China who spent most of the match defending, but still attacked until the end. Hungarian captain Daniel Varga scored the opening two goals — one from penalty — and brother Denes Varga chimed in with the third on counter attack late in the first period. Chinese captain Feihu Tan scored on extra at 2-1. Hungary motored in four goals in the second half before China responded. Marton Toth from deep left, Denes Varga on extra, Balasz Erdelyi and Marton Szivos had the score at 7-1. Tao Dong converted a penalty for 7-2, the halftime score. Balasz Harai tried a couple of shots from his favoured centre-forward position, but had to settle for a goal from a five-metre free throw. Toth scored a second on counter and the margin was well out to 9-2. Ning Pan could not contain his excitement and violently came over the top of a Hungarian player, gaining a red card. Team-mate Zhongxian Chen scored on double extra soon after, only for Denes Varga to close the quarter at 10-3 from the deep left. Marton Vamos hit the crossbar on penalty at the top of the fourth period; Nianxiang Liang converted extra-man attack; Norbert Hosnyanszky blasted from the top for 11-4 and Toth dragged down a cross pass at two metres for 12-4, followed by pushing in a rebound short of the line several attacks later. Dong closed the scoring for China from the top at 2:15 for 13-5. Hungary gained few chances to convert extra-man attack but came up with 0/4 statistic.

CHN vs HUN - credit. Russell McKinnon


Tibor Benedek (HUN) — Head Coach
“China was very physical and very strong. In the beginning we made a lot of mistakes, especially on extra-man chances. We did a lot of hard work, but too many mistakes, then we started to capitalise and we became better and better.”

Marton Toth (HUN) — Three Goals
“I’m happy about our playing and it’s also good to have fans in the crowd. I hope that tomorrow we play like last year’s final.”

Paolo Malara (ITA) — China Head Coach
“No 10 (Jinghao Chen, who scored four goals in the rounds) had broken ribs. We were playing with Hungary. They are the best team in the world. I think the result of 13-5 was good for us. I am happy for the team; I hope in the future we will get good results.”

Feihu Tan (CHN) — Captain

“We played much stronger. Playing Hungary is very difficult but each game we are getting better and we hope to play better tomorrow.”