WPWL Men’s Super Final 2015, Bergamo, Day 1: Victories for Serbia, Hungary, Brazil and Italy

World League

The six-day and 24 matches long tournament started on Tuesday June 23 at 4 p.m. with the first session of four matches.

During the first three days the eight teams - divided in two groups, A and B, are scheduled to play 12 matches in the Preliminary Round. The second half of the tournament will feature the Quarter Finals (Day 4), the Semi Finals (Day 5) and the Finals (Day 6).

The winner of the Super Final will be qualified for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In addition it will receive a US $ 100,000 FINA prize.

Today there were the predictable victories of Serbia over the USA, Hungary over China, and Italy over Australia. However, in the third match there was the surprising victory of Brazil, host of next year Olympic Games, over the Olympic champions of Croatia.

In the first match there was an interesting confrontation between the USA Head Coach Dejan Udovicic and his former team Serbia, on which bench he sat about 500 times, with about 70% successes, including World Championships, World League Super Finals, World Cups and European Championships medals.

A similar situation in the third match, with Brazil led by Ratko Rudic, perhaps the most winning coach ever, leading Brazil against his former team Croatia.

Game 1, Group B:  SERBIA 13 – USA 7 /  (6-3,  3-0;  3-1, 1-3)

SERBIA: Gojko PIJETLOVIC (GK), Dusan MANDIC (1), Zivko GOCIC ©, Sava RANDELOVIC, Milos CUK (2), Dusko PIJETLOVIC (3), Slobodan NIKIC, Milan ALEKSIC, Nikola JAKSIC, Filip FILIPOVIC (3), Andrija PRLAINOIVC (2), Stefan MITROVIC (2), Branislav MITROVIC (GK). Head Coach: Dejan SAVIC.

UNITED STATES: Merrill MOSES (GK), Connor VIRJEE, Alex OBERT, Jackson KIMBELL, Alex ROELSE (1), Luca CUPIDO, Josh SAMUELS (1), Tony AZEVEDO © (1), Alex BOWEN (2), Bret BONANNI (2), John MANN, Mc Quin BARON (GK). Head Coach: Dejan UDOVICIC.



Game 1: SRB vs USA. Photo Credit: Giorgio Scala

The United States had to bow to the overwhelming superiority of Serbia, a team where the old guard and the new guard have smoothly integrated in a collective display of harmonious and effective play, under the guide of coach Dejan Savic.

The young and much renovated USA team, still inspired by their veteran captain Tony Azevedo, was able to compete valiantly in the first and the last quarters; in the central two quarters the Americans were practically non existing and remained scoreless for as long as 19 minutes+ (including the first part of the last period). In the last quarter, while the Serbians seemed appeased, the Americans reacted convincingly and managed to narrow the gap. However, the wide difference existing between the two teams was perfectly reflected in the final score.

The Serbian coach Dejan Savic was satisfied with the behavior of his team, instead the coach of the United States was less happy and said:

We will have to analyse why for a considerable part of the game my team was unable to play up to expectations. Serbia played very well and fully deserved victory. The Serbian players know always what to do and, given their physical strength and overall skills, they are also advantaged by the 25m field, not only them but all the Balkan teams. Instead teams who rely more on swimming– as the United States and Australia - find it difficult to display their playing style at full”.

Indeed Serbia was convincing in both the offensive and the defensive actions, with both Serbian goalies up to the task.

Game 2, Group B: HUNGARY 18 – CHINA 8 /  (4-2, 5-1; 3-5, 6-0 )

HUNGARY: Viktor NAGY (GK), Miklos GOR-NAGY (1), Norbert MADARAS (2), Balasz ERDELYI (2), Marton VAMOS (3), Norbert HOSNYASKY (3), Ferenc SALAMON, Daniel ANGYAL, Daniel VARGA ©, Denes VARGA (3), Toni NEMET, Balazs HARAI (2), Attila DECKER (GK). Head Coach: Tibor BENEDEK.

CHINA: Honghui WU (GK), Feihu TAN, Zhangxin HU, Tao DONG (3), Wenhui LU, Li LI, Zhongxian CHEN, Liang GU, Zekai XIE, Jinghao CHEN, Chufeng ZHANG (3), Nianxiang LIANG (2), Zhiwei LIANG (GK). Head Coach: Paolo MALARA.



Game 2: HUN vs CHN. Photo credit: Giorgio Scala

The superiority of the Hungarian side was out of question and their victory was never in doubt. However the Magyars looked somewhat relaxed from time to time and their coach, Tibor Benedek, in the 3rd quarter had to call a time out for telling off a reprimand and motivate his players to give more, which happened both in the second part of the 3rd period and the last period.
After the game, Benedek explained:

“In the third quarter my team was relaxed and we received five goals, which is unacceptable. In the last quarter they got back to their usual standard and overall I am satisfied”.

Also Paolo Malara, who has been coaching China for about a year and half, was satisfied:

“We definitely want to qualify for next year’s Olympics and we are gradually growing. I am happy with the discipline shown by my players; my team is improving and now has achieved a good organization: the 10-goal difference of today does not scare us but, instead it will motivate us to improve”.

Game 3, Group A:  BRAZIL 17 – CROATIA 10 / (3-3, 6-2; 6–1, 4-2)

BRAZIL: Vinicius ANTONELLI (GK), Jonas CRIVELLA (1), Guilherme GOMES, Ives ALONSO (1), Paulo SALEMI, Bernardo GOMES (2), Adrian DELGADO (5), Felipe SANTOS (1), Bernardo ROCHA, Felipe PERRONE (3), Gustavo GUIMARAES (1), Josip VRLIC (3), Thye BEZERRA (GK). Head Coach: Ratko RUDIC.

CROATIA: Josip PAVIC, Damir BURIC (1), Antonio PETKOVIC (1+1P), Luka LONCAR (2), Maro JOKOVIC (2), Luka BUKIC, Ante VUKICEVIC, Andro BUSLJE, Sandro SUKNO (1), Fran PASKVALIN, Andelo SETKA, Paulo OBRADOVIC (2), Marko BIJAC. Head Coach: Ivica TUCAK.



Game 3: BRA vs CRO. Photo credit: Giorgio Scala

Ratko Rudic stunned everybody when at half time Brazil led Croatia 9 to 5. An unpredictable outcome that only a recognised Master as Rudic, il “Maestro”, could have achieved.

The surprise was much greater at the end of the match when the Brazilians could celebrate their unpredictable triumph over the Olympic champions with an advantage of 7 goals, on a final score of 17 -10.

Under the helm of Rudic, Brazil appears to have lifted its standard to “A” level. The team is well organised, super motivated, and can count on some very talented individualities, such as the experienced #10 Felipe Perrone, author of 3 goals, and number #7 Adrian Delgado, a top scorer of the match with 5 goals (out of 5 shots, 100%).

The score of each of the two central periods was tennis like: 6-2, 6-1 for Brazil. The maximum gap in favour of Brazil was of 9 goals at the end of the third quarter. The reaction of Croatia could just prompt their victory in the last period (4-2).

The Croatians were missing a couple of their best players but also they looked out of focus, perhaps tired or not yet in their best form. Although the defeat was burning both coach Iviac Tucak and most players congratulated Rudic after the game.

Rudic, perhaps the most decorated coach ever - he won three Olympic gold medals at the helm of three different national teams - was up to his reputation and said:

“I feel sad for Croatia for their loss but my team deserved to win. This is just one game but I think that if Brazil continues to improve it will be very good for water polo in general. We have worked very hard, and my players were tactically wise, have displayed good skills and a good organisation in the water. In my side there are many young players, some really gifted and interesting. But we need to continue to work very hard”.

Game 4,  Group B: AUSTRALIA 5 – ITALY 7 / (1-0, 2-1; 0-5, 2-1)

AUSTRALIA: Joel DENNERLY (GK), Richard CAMPBELL, George FORD, John COTTERILL (1), Nathan POWER, Jarrod GILCHRIST (1), Aidan ROACH, Aaron YOUNGER (1), Joel SWIFT (1); Joseph KAYES, Rhys HOWDEN (1), William Miller James CLARK (GK). Head Coach: Elvis FATOVIC.

ITALY: Stefano TEMPESTI (GK) ©, Francesco DI FULVIO, Alessandro VELOTTO, Pietro FIGLIOLI (1), Alex GIORGETTI (2), Andrea FONDELLI, Nicholas PRESCIUTTI (1), Valentino GALLO, Niccolò GITTO, Stefano LUONGO (1), Matteo AICARDI (2), Fabio BARALDI, Marco DEL LUNGO (GK). Head Coach: Alessandro CAMPAGNA.



Game 4: AUS vs ITA. Photo credit: Giorgio Scala

In the first half Italy was out of touch with the game. The team of Alessandro Campagna missed four extra-man superiorities and narrowly missed a couple of goals. On the other hand the Australians scored two goals with Gilchrist and Swift. Italy managed his first goal at 1:37 from the end of the second quarter, when they converted their fifth superiority with Aicardi. Then Australia scored again with Howden. At half time the score was 3-1 for the Oceanian team, who won both the first and the second period.

One minute inside the 3rd quarter Italy’s #5 Giorgetti scored the second goal for Italy, on extra man. Two minutes later Giorgetti scored his second goal which meant a tie on 3-3.
Less than minute later Italy’s centre forward Aicardi gave the first advantage to his team with a goal on a spectacular back shot (3-4).

At 1:25 from the end of the 3rd period Luongo put Italy 2 up with a goal from the perimeter. A minute later, with 23 second till the end of the period came a goal from Presciutti, increasing the gap
While Italy dominated the third quarter, Australia - coached by Elvis Fatovic, a former top Croatian player - was unable to score in this fraction of the game.

With 2 minutes and 37 seconds inside the last quarter Figlioli scored the seventh and last goal for Italy. Soon after it was the turn of Australia’s number 4, Cotterill, to score the 4th goal for his team, leaving the 3-goal gap unchanged. Then Luongo missed an easy goal from 1 metre at the end of a spectacular counter attack. Instead Younger benefitted from a rare mistake of Italy’s goalie Tempesti to score his own goal, thus reducing the gap to two goals and fixing the final score to 5-7.

More Quotes:

Tony Azevedo (USA player)

"In this period we are mostly working on physical training; during the next weeks we will mostly concentrate on technical training, to better prepare ourselves for the Panamerican Games. In this match we did not start well, we suffered their superiority; we improved our game through the match. I think the Serbian team, at present, is the best in the world".

"Our team, differently than USA and Italy, is not undergoing a generational change nor is looking for new players for the next Olympic Games. The team preparation for the upcoming World Championship is good and enough but we will try to further improve our game".
Dejan Savic (Coach Serbia)

Balàzs Erdélyi (Hungary player)
"I am happy for the way we played the first two and the last quarter. The Chinese team came up strongly in the third period and we are a bit disappointed for that. We played well both in defense and offense in the fourth period and I am happy for that".

Josip Pavic (Croatia - Goalkeeper)
"Brazil played really much better than us, especially in defense, where we made some mistakes. Today it was really not our day; we can and we will play better in the next matches, also thanks to the hard training the team did so far".

Josip Pavic (Croazia – portiere)
Felipe Perrone (Brazil player)
"The game will get tougher in the next days so, we cannot underestimate any of the opposers. These matches are important, for the team, to grow as a whole".