Men's World League 2014, Day 6: Serbia crushes Hungary for eighth World League crown

World League

Serbia made a eighth trip to the top of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final podium after defeating Hungary for the second straight year and in emphatic fashion. The Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai came alight as no-one left the stands until Serbia was well finished celebrating what was a fantastic championship in a year when the World League precedes the European Championships and the FINA World Cup.

Serbia was the class team and Filip Filipovic was the magic man with 17 incredible goals — goals that came when needed at the sharp end of the tournament. He was awarded the trophy for the most goals while his team-mate Gojko Pijetlovic was named best goalkeeper in a team where everyone contributed.

Dejan Savic was delighted to add to the medal tally, but still found fault with his players. “I think we won because we played very well in defence, but I’m a little disappointed with the final quarter because we lost three goals. I think that my guys thought they had already won. I hope it will be better for us, not like last year where we won the World League and got seventh at the World Championships. We hope to medal at the European Championships.”

Serbia’s record at this level is eight titles, one silver (with Montenegro) and one bronze (as Serbia).

The 2014 World League champions: Serbia - credit: Russell McKinnon

For Hungary it was consecutive disappointments, but not unexpected, according to head coach Tibor Benedek. “I always said that Serbia was the form team here. That was plenty clear from the second period. Their five-metre shots meant we couldn’t do anything. They won the game in one period and were 7-2 up.”

Captain Daniel Varga, so inspirational all week, was awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy while his brother Denes stepped up and scored four goals in a stunning performance. For Hungary it is some time since consecutive titles in 2003-04 and it now has four silvers and a bronze.

The bronze-medal match was equally as exciting with Australia never headed for the entire four quarters only to see Montenegro draw level with eight seconds to go. It was devastating for Australia, who lost one of its star shooters, Aaron Younger, near the end of the match. His penalty shooting ability was sadly missed as Montenegro scored in the shootout and Australia the first, but had the second and third attempts blocked. Australia was not to win its second world medal of any colour following a 1993 World Cup bronze.

Montenegro, twice a winner with Serbia & Montenegro, and once in its own right, adds another bronze to a collection ever expanding. As Montenegro, it has one gold, one silver and now two bronze,
United States of America beat Canada 14-11 for the second time this week — first and last matches — to take out fifth place. USA led by six in the final quarter before Canada scored four of the last five goals. USA’s Alexander Bowen with 13 and Canada’s Constantin-Bicari with 16 topped their teams’ scorers.

Brazil finished seventh after coming from behind to beat China 8-7 after only taking the lead for the first time at 2:31 in the final period. Brazil’s Adrian Delgado top-scored with 10 goals and Chinese captain Feihu Tan led his team for the week with 10 goals.

Most Valuable Player: Daniel Varga (HUN)
Best Goalkeeper: Gojko Pijetlovic (SRB)
Highest Goal-scorer: Filip Filipovic (SRB) — 17 goals

Media All Star team:

Goalkeeper: Gojko Pijetlovic (SRB)
Centre forward: Dusko Pijetlovic (SRB)
Field Players: Alexander Bowen (USA), Filip Filipovic (SRB), Mladan Janovic (MNE) Aidan Roach (AUS), Daniel Varga (HUN).

Match 21: 14:30, 7-8 Classification, CHINA 7 BRAZIL 8

Quarters: 2-1, 1-1, 2-2, 2-4
Referees: Mikhail Dykman (CAN), German Moller (ARG).

Extra Man: CHN:  4/9. BRA: 7/11.
Pens: CHN: 1/2.

CHINA: Zhiwei Liang, Feihu Tan (1), Lun Li, Zekai Xie, Junliang Guo (2), Ning Pan, Zhongxian Chen, Liang Gu, Tao Dong, Jinghao Chen, Chufeng Zhang (3), Nianxiang Liang (1), Chengcheng Qiu.
Head Coach: Paolo Malara.
BRAZIL: Vinicius Antonelli, Jonas Crivella, Guilherme Gomes (2), Gustavo Coutinho, Marcelo Franco, Bernardo Gomes (1), Adrian Delgado (3), Felipe Silva (1), Bernardo Rocha, Ruda Franco, Gustavo Guimaraes (1), Danilo Correa, Thye Bezerra. Head Coach: Ratko Rudic.

China and Brazil were a good match with both teams nullifying each other’s attacks. Both appeared to have arrived at the fifth match mentally and physically tired. Teams swapped goals early through Chufeng Zhang and Bernardo Gomes with Junliang Guo converting extra at 2:18 for 2-1.The low–scoring second quarter was a combination of good defence and poor shooting, although Felipe Silva, Brazil’s captain who had scored eight goals in the first five days, smacked down a long cross pass at two metres to level the match at 6:43 of the second period. Zhang scored his second on extra at 3:00 and, despite a Brazilian timeout, China had a 3-2 halftime advantage. The match heated up in the third quarter with Guo scoring a second for 4-2 from a five-metre shot. Adrian Delgado blasted in from the deep left and Guilherme Gomes gained the benefit of a deflection when his shot ricocheted off Feihu Tan’s arm cross cage into goal for 4-4. Nianxiang Liang tipped in the neatest counter-attack goal when Tan arrowed the ball across the pool to him while driving into goal. The rapid goal caused some oohs and aahs from the crowd and left China 5-4 up at the final break. Delgado struck twice more at the start of the fourth period and Brazil was ahead for the first time. Both came from his preferred deep-left position. Zhang replied on an extra-man cross pass. Ning Pan missed a chance to regain the lead when he had his penalty attempt blocked by Vinicius Antonelli. It proved fatal in the end. Gustavo Guimaraes scored on extra but Tan took over the penalty duties at 2:06 and blasted home the 7-7 equaliser. Things were starting to heat up by then and Bernardo Gomes was so frustrated that he allegedly struck his Chinese opponent in the face and was red-carded from the match. Guilherme Gomes provided a wind-up shot from the top on extra for what was the winner at 0:49. China lost the ball on attack and the last attempt was blocked, meaning Brazil won after only leading the match for less than four minutes.

CHN vs BRA - credit: Russell McKinnon


Paolo Malara (ITA) — Head Coach

“I’m happy with the team because we played strongly. Brazil is very good. Yes, we controlled the game for much of the time but we must have a good attitude and make a habit of winning. With more matches against stronger teams and more experience, we will do better. It was good we played three strong matches against Montenegro, Hungary and Serbia, despite the scores. Step by step the younger players get to play the best teams in the world. This is good.”

Chufeng Zhang (CHN) — Three Goals
“I actually feel good about the way our team played. I think overall we are very happy. We came in confident that we would win some games but I guess not today. I wanted to win the quarterfinals but we were still able to showcase some of our skills.”

Ratko Rudic (CRO) — Brazil Head Coach
“We had yesterday one shocking game and all the players were very depressed and couldn’t sleep. They were thinking about the loss. It’s very difficult to find the motivation for this game. We were playing and struggling from the beginning of the game. It was close more for them than us. Then at the end we found the strength to make the result our way. It was a good indication for the team that we can come back from bad situations.”

Bernardo Gomes (BRA) — Suspended Player

“We trained very hard for this tournament. It’s not the position we would rather be in but it was good to get the victory. We have been training very hard and we are hoping that we will improve in future tournaments.”

Match 22: 15:50, 5-6 Classification, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 14 CANADA 11
Quarters: 3-3, 2-2, 4-1, 5-5
Referees: Hatem Gaber (EGY), Vojin Putnikovic (SRB).

Extra Man: USA: 6/9. CAN: 4/11.
Pens: CAN: 1/1.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: McQuin Baron, Nick Bell, Alex Obert, Michael Rosenthal (1), Anthony Daboub (1), Conner Cleary, Josh Samuels (4), Bret Bonanni (2), Alex Bowen (2), Nolan McConnell (1), Jackson Kimbell, John Mann (3), Jon Sibley. Head Coach: Jack Kocur.
CANADA: Robin Randall, Constantine Kudaba (1), Oliver Vikalo, Nicolas Constantin-Bicari (3), Justin Boyd (3), Scott Robinson (2), Alec Taschereau (1), Kevin Graham, Dusan Radojcic, John Conway, Zacchary Kappos (1), Jared McElroy, Dusan Aleksic. Head Coach: Alex Beslin.

USA gained a second win over Canada in Dubai to claim fifth position and it came without regular head coach Dejan Udovicic (SRB) at the helm. Udovicic was in the stands sitting out a suspension, so assistant Jack Kocur took the helm and succeeded. On Monday it was a 12-9 win for Canada after Canada head been 7-2 up early in the third period. Today it took until the second quarter for USA to gain the lead and never relinquish it. Canada began the charge through Constantine Kudaba and Alec Taschereau in the first three minutes. Alexander Bowen nailed his 12th goal of the week, but Scott Robinson gave Canada a 3-1 lead at 4:10. It was all action and Canada was looking good. Then John Mann, USA’s only Olympian, turned at two metres and, heavily guarded, slammed the ball into goal. Joshua Samuels score his eighth and the game was level at 3-3 by the break. Samuels gave USA the lead on extra from deep left to start the second period. Justin Boyd scored from very deep right to bring Canada back into the game. USA’s Michael Rosenthal with a slider on the right and Robinson on the right, traded goals for 5-5 by halftime.
Mann repeated his centre-forward goal of the first quarter to open the second half, followed by Nicolas Constantin-Bicari who scored from two metres for his 14th goal of the tournament while fully underwater. Nolan McConnell and Bowen — lifting his tally to 13 — for a healthy 8-6 advantage. This became 9-6 when Samuels claimed his third from the top just after the extra-man time had expired. The final quarter kept the scoreboard ticking over with USA going out to 11-6 and 13-7 — Samuels and Mann gaining their third each — before Nicolas Constantin-Bicari became the tournament’s highest scorer to date with 15 goals for 13-8. Justin Boyd scored on extra for 13-9 and a poor pass was intercepted by Canada and it was crossed to Constantin-Bicari to score his 16th and bring Canada to double figures. Anthony Daboub gave USA the 14-10 score at 0:24 and Zacchary Kappos finished the scoring on extra for Canada with four seconds remaining for 14-11.

USA vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Jack Kocur (USA) — Acting Head Coach

“Obviously a win is a win so we are happy with that. Canada is a good team so we always have strong fights and good battles out there. They have great two-metre men who complement our two-metre defenders. It was a slow finish but again we were happy to have the win.”

McQuin Baron (USA) — Goalkeeper
“I’m only 18 years old coming into the tournament. It’s an honour to play in the tournament, to play with all these Olympians. It’s an awesome experience. Today we had our ups and downs, but obviously getting the victory is what it is all about. Every tournament you go to you want to win a medal. Our average age is about 20 years old and we have lots to work on.”

Alex Beslin (CAN) — Head Coach
“Based on the type of match and the way we played from start to finish, my team was tired. Especially with (the effort of) the last game. It was the main reason for the mistakes and a reflection of the tired condition of the players. There was a high percent changed that we would not finish well. We have to hold the intensity all the game. It wasn’t enough. Yesterday we were completely excited with one athlete who kicked in, but six days in a row and two times in the past four weeks is a lot to ask. Generally I am satisfied with the tournament. There were many good signals, aims and actions. They implemented what I asked so I am generally satisfied.”

Alex Taschereau — Goal Scorer

“It’s always tough against the States. We had the first game and lost it in the last quarter so today we tried to play hard from the first quarter. We will have to get them back in the near future. From us it’s all that experience with not many players in Europe. We can use what we learnt in this tournament and build on the team chemistry for the Pan Ams.”

Match 23: 17:10, 3-4 Classification, MONTENEGRO 12 AUSTRALIA 9 in penalty shootout (FT: 8-8. Pens: 4-1)
Quarters: 1-2, 3-2, 1-2, 3-2
Referees: Joseph Peila (USA, Adrian Alexandrescu (ROU).

Extra Man: MNE:  5/10. AUS: 3/9.
Pens: MNE: 1/1.

MONTENEGRO: Zdravko Radic, Drasko Brguljan (2), Vjekoslav Paskovic, Antonio Petrovic (3), Darko Brguljan (3), Dragan Draskovic, Mladan Janovic (2), Uros Cuckovic, Jovan Saric (1), Nikola Murisic (1), Filip Klikovac, Predrag Jokic, Milos Scepanovic. Head Coach: Ranko Perovic.
AUSTRALIA: James Clark, Richie Campbell (2), George Ford, John Cotterill, Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist (1), Aidan Roach (3), Aaron Younger (2), Lachlan Edwards, Tyler Martin, Mitch Emery, William Miller (1), Edward Slade. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.

Montenegro, twice a champion when playing as Serbia & Montenegro, needed a penalty shootout to fend off a dominant Australia after the match ended in an 8-8 draw. Australia was never headed in the four quarters so it was a huge disappointment as Nikola Murisic scored the equaliser with eight seconds to go and then miss twice in the shootout. Both teams were missing key players with Montenegro missing left-handers and Australia without its No 1 centre forward and its regular regular captain.
Australia had the match at 2-0 in the first three minutes with two strikes from Aidan Roach, the first with a deflection on a slider and the second on extra. Antonio Petrovic converted extra-man attack at 2:42 to bring his team into the game Aussie Sharks captain Richard Campbell scored his ninth of the week with a bouncer over the head of goalkeeper Zdravko Radic for 3-1 inside the first half minute of the second quarter. Mladan Janovic converted a penalty and Petrovic scored a second and his ninth of the tournament on extra for 3-3. Jarrod Gilchrist scored off the right post on extra to take the lead for the second time but Darko Brguljan replied off the left post on extra on the next attack for 4-4 by halftime. Aaron Younger scored twice in the third period for the 5-4 and 6-5 scores, either side of a Drasko Brguljan strike. Younger scored the first from the top and the second with a backhand from centre forward. It sent the match into the final period with the Aussie Sharks ahead. Drasko Brguljan finished a possession from the top into the top right at 4:57 for 6-6. Roach put the Sharks ahead after swimming the length of the pool behind his team, sitting up and scoring at 3:55 for his 10th goal of the tournament. Montenegro called a timeout when Australia lost nine-goaler Aaron Younger on his third major foul at 2:03. Darko Brguljan scored after the extra-time period for 7-7. Australia went to a timeout and had a shot, regaining the rebound. Campbell fired across to William Miller, who made a short break to goal, rose high, grabbed the ball and took the 8-7 lead at 0:40. Montenegro earned an exclusion foul on George Ford and Nikola Murisic, who had just entered the pool, scored from the top at 0:08. Campbell shot for Australia but Radic stopped, sending the match to a shootout. Montenegro shot first and Janovic, Jovan Saric, Darko Brguljan and Antonio Petrovic all converted. Campbell struck home but Australia’s next two shooters, Gilchrist and John Cotterill both had their shots blocked. Petrovic made sure of the match.

MNE vs AUS - credit: Russell McKinnon


Vido Lompar (MNE) — Assistant Coach

“This was a very, very difficult match as Australia was a strong team who swum all game. Just one goal difference most of the game. Look at the last attack. We had to score to go to penalties, which was fantastic. This is the fifth time we have been in the semifinals and this is very good preparation for Budapest, the European Championships. Australia is to be congratulated on a great game and a great coach. I am very happy for my team.”

Antonio Petrovic (MNE) — Two Goals
"It was a tough game. Australia is a very good team. We were struggling through the game but in the end we showed our strength to win the game. The new guys really showed their mettle in this game today. Our goalkeeper was fantastic in the penalty shootout. It is wonderful to have won the bronze medal. It is never easy to win a medal.”

Elvis Fatovic (CRO) — Australia Head Coach

“This is my second competition as Australia head coach and my second heart-breaking game, like Croatia in the World Championships. But I must say I am so proud of these players of how they responded after yesterday and against a much, much more experienced team than we are. I’m really proud of how they played. We didn’t come here just to be part of the tournament. We are very happy that we are the best non-European team. Next step is to be much closer. This showed that in the close future we will be very competitive with everyone.”

Richard Campbell (AUS) — Captain
“This was the best game of the week so far so it was disappointing to lose like that. We hope to be more consistent in the future, but that’s when we become a bit more experienced. We planned on being very competitive throughout the week and I think we achieved.”

Match 24: 18:30, 1-2 Classification, HUNGARY 6 SERBIA 10
Quarters: 2-3, 0-4, 1-3, 3-0
Referees: Filippo Gomez (ITA), Sergio Borrell (ESP).

Extra Man: HUN: 1/9. SRB: 3/6.
Pens: HUN: 1/1. SRB: 1/2.

HUNGARY: Viktor Nagy, Miklos Gor-Nagy, Norbert Madaras (1), Balazs Erdelyi, Marton Vamos, Norbert Hosnyanszky, Daniel Angyal, Marton Szivos, Daniel Varga (1), Denes Varga (4), Marton Toth, Balazs Harai, Attila Decker. Head Coach: Tibor Benedek.
SERBIA: Gojko Pijetlovic, Dusan Mandic (2), Zivko Gocic, Sava Randelovic, Milos Cuk, Dusko Pijetlovic (1), Slobodan Nikic, Dusan Markovic, Nikola Raden, Filip Filipovic (3), Andrija Prlainovic (1), Stefan Mitrovic (3), Branislav Mitrovic. Head Coach: Dejan Savic.
Match report:

It was a Serbia all the way to the eighth championship crown. Hungary had no answers and knew that it would be a hard match against a Serbia fully, fit, fully experienced and dead-set on winning an event it virtually owns. Serbia is now looking to convert that win into more gold at next month’s European Championships in Hungary. Serbia started the scoring, but the first quarter was a settling-in time. Filip Filipovic scored on extra and Denes Varga responded with a penalty conversion. Andrija Prlainovic and Stefan Mitrovic both scored from the left side with the latter a superb lob. Norbert Madaras screamed in a shot on extra at 1:49 and both teams used a timeout to no effect. Mitrovic opened the second quarter and Filipovic took his tally to 16 on penalty for 5-2. He scored less than a minute later from his favoured left-hander’s position and Dusan Mandic scored from the same position straight after for 7-2 by halftime. Mitrovic started the third from top left and the damage to Hungary was increasing as Dusko Pijetlovic, snuck into one metre for the cross pass to score at 3:02 and 9-2 ahead. Denes Varga made amends for Hungary before Mandic closed the period with his 13th goal of the week with a deft lob. The huge crowd was starting to get behind Hungary and Denes Varga gained his third of the game and 12th for the event at 7:05 in the final period. Hungary had everything ahead of it. Serbia tried to pierce the Hungarian defence but Hungary was stubborn and captain Daniel Varga charged down the right to score for 10-5 at 3:59. There was a slim chance. However, Serbia settled with a timeout and head coach Dejan Savic urged restraint from his charges. Hungary called a timeout and the clock ticked down too quickly for Hungary to take a shot. Denes Varga closed out the Hungarian scoring with his man-of-the-match four goals at 1:54, but it was too late. Dusan Markovic had the honour to score Serbia’s last goal from the penalty line but his shot was blocked by Attila Decker. Serbia had won.

HUN vs SRB - credit: Russell McKinnon


Tibor Benedek (HUN) — Head Coach

“I always said that Serbia was the form team here. That was plenty clear from the second period. Their five-metre shots meant we couldn’t do anything. They won the game in one period and were 7-2 up.” On the preparation for the European Championships: “We have to improve our work. It is not only Serbia who is strong. There are a lot of strong teams there.” On the best outcome from Dubai: “There were many. We played some important games. Today we did not concentrate enough.”

Dejan Savic (SRB) — Head Coach
“I think we won because we played very well in defence, but I’m a little disappointed with the final quarter because we lost three goals. I think that my guys thought they had already won. I hope it will be better for us, not like last year where we won the World League and got seventh at the World Championships. We hope to medal at the European Championships.”

Gojko Pijetlovic (SRB) — Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament

“It’s our second year in a row and most of us were on the team last year so it was good to win again. Our main goal was to make it to the finals and once we got in, obviously we wanted to win it. It was also good to see a lot of progress from Australia, USA and Brazil. We were surprised at how much better they are playing.”

Filip Filipovic (SRB) — Highest Goal-scorer of the Tournament
“First of all I would like to congratulate my team-mates. We did really well. We didn’t expect this result. The final is unique; I am very glad we had a very tough week. It is great Serbia have retained this trophy. I gave my all to score as many goals as I could in this game tonight. We knew Hungary would come back at us so we got a great start. I am delighted with my own performance and scoring goals and that my team-mates gave me that opportunity.”