Six-a-side format returns to FINA Junior Men’s World Championships

FINA World Junior Water Polo Championships

Almaty, September 4.— Opening day action from the FINA Junior Men’s World Water Polo Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan saw some excellent matches played in the new format.

The smaller ball, smaller teams, smaller pitch and only six players a side in the pool, led to plenty of goals and more space to manoeuvre.

The last tournament that staged this six-a-side format was the same event in Dunkirk, France in 1999.

Eighteen teams are competing following the late withdrawal of Argentina and Brazil. Original match numbers will be retained and two groups will have one less team.

In Group A, Montenegro beat Egypt 14-11 in an enthralling match where Egypt just kept coming back at the stronger Europeans.

In Group B, Hungary beat Greece 17-9 and Netherlands was too hard to handle for China, winning 22-11.

In Group C, Serbia overwhelmed Australia 20-9 from a 5-0 start.

In Group D, Spain went from 9-6 ahead at halftime over Uzbekistan to a commanding 25-10 victory. Italy closed out host Kazakhstan 16-9 in the final match of the day.

Points after day one:

Group A: Montenegro 2, Egypt 0, Croatia, South Africa.

Group B: Netherlands 2, Hungary 2, Greece 0, China 0, Japan.

Group C: Serbia 2, Australia 0, Iran, Mexico.

Group D: Spain 2, Italy 2, Uzbekistan 0, Kazakhstan 0, Canada.

Match 1: 10:00, Group A, MONTENEGRO 14 EGYPT 11

Quarters: 5-0, 4-6, 3-3, 2-2

Referees: Kunihiro Sato (JPN), Amirhossein Safabahsh (IRN).

Extra Man: MNE: 4/6. EGY: 0/1.

Pens: MNE: 1/1.

MONTENEGRO: Aresenije Stanovic, Ugjesa Vukasovic (1), Dorde Bulatovic, Dusan Matkovic, Matija Brguljan (2), Nicolas Savejic (5), Danilo Adzic (2), Stefan Porobic, Filip Gardasevic (2), Janko Krivokapic (2), Milija Mandic. Head Coach: Zoran Maslovar.

EGYPT: Omara Osama, Moustafa Essmat (1), Aly Elaassar (2), Mahmoud Tarek (1), Ahmed Barakat (4), Abdelrahman Haroun, Ahmed Sherif (1), Hassan Haroun (1), Karim Mahmoud, Mahomed Mohsen (1), Marwan Ayman. Head Coach: Denes Lukacs.

Match Report:
Montenegro came away with the honours, as it should have after a 5-0 opening start. However, Egypt was no easy beat and proved that with a comeback second quarter that stunned Montenegro. For the rest of the game there was nothing between the teams as Egypt, in particular, used the centre forward to good effect and found that extra space with just six men in the pool to good advantage. As a spectacle it was an excellent tournament opener with some fine individual performances from Montenegro’s Nicolas Savejic and Egypt’s Ahmed Barakat.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 3: 11:20, Group B, HUNGARY 17 GREECE 9

Quarters: 5-2, 4-2, 5-2, 3-3

Referees: Andrej Franulovic (CRO), Jaume Teixido (ESP)

Extra Man: HUN: 6/10. GRE: 1/11.

Pens: GRE: 1/2.

HUNGARY: Istvan Kardos, Marcell Kolozsi, Zoltan Pohl (3), Tamas Sedlmayer (1), Adam Nagy, Balasz Kalanovics, Gergo Zalanki (4), Gergo Kovacs (5), Krisztian Peter Manhercz (2), Simon Benedek Vogel (2), Soma Vogel. Head Coach: Gyorgi Horkai.

GREECE: Emmanouil Zerdevas, Nikolaos Kopeliadis (2), Michail Sartzetakis, Angelos Foskolos (1), Stylianos Argyropoulos-Kanakkis (2), Dmitrios Nicolaidis, Panteleimon Kalogerakos (3), Grigorios Kapetanakis, Christos Papoukas, Alexandros Athymaritis (1), Rafail Forotzidis. Head Coach: Theodoros Chatzitheodorou.

Match report:
Hungary had the better of Greece from the start, going three straight before the Greeks bounced back. Hungary twice went six ahead in the second quarter. By halftime Hungary was totally in control and appeared not to waste any extra energy. Greece battled hard for goals, but the team led by Greek great Theodoros Chatzitheodorou, had no answers to the outside shooting power of the Hungarians. A tied final quarter gave some respite to the Greeks. Hungary’s two Gergos —Zalanki (4 goals) and Kovacs (5) — enjoyed the outing.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 4: 12:40, Group B, NETHERLANDS 22 CHINA 11

Quarters: 7-2, 3-2, 8-2, 4-5

Referees: Viktor Salnichenko (KAZ), Sinisa Matijasevic (MNE)

Extra Man: NED: 8/10. CHN: 1/5.

Pens: NED: 2/2. CHN: 1/1.

NETHERLANDS: Milan Koff, Kjeld Veenhuis (5), Guus  van Yperen (3), Sam Burg (4), Guus Wolswinkel (1), Tarik Scherrenburg (2), Harmen Muller (2), Pascal Janssen (2), Bilal Gbadamassi (1), Benjamin Hoepelman (2), Brent Hofmeyer. Head Coach: Jacob Spijker.

CHINA: Guozheng Wei, Zekai Xie, Zhongxzan Chen (6), Jiahao Peng, Rongkun Lie (1), Bezyi Wang (2), Yingyi Gao, Rui Chen (4), Yi Lu, Dong Ni, Xiang Fu. Head Coach: Yaohua Chen.

Match Report:
Netherlands looked far more confident than the Chinese and proved that intimidation works wonders. In the third period, the Chinese slowed considerably in thinking, actions and movement around the pool. The Dutch then started their counter attack to gain valuable goals and stretch the margin well beyond China’s hopes and dreams. Netherlands worked the ball to centre forward repeatedly, however, the Chinese defence was good in this area. Outside shooting and fast passing proved the key to the excellent victory. To China’s credit, when all was lost, it delivered four goals in the last two minutes with some aggression as Netherlands started slacking off. The extra-man count says it all about the match with the Dutch converting an incredible eight from 10.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 5: 15:40, Group C, SERBIA 20 AUSTRALIA 9

Quarters: 6-1, 6-2, 3-3, 5-3

Referees: Luca Bianco (ITA), Mikhail Dykman (CAN).

Extra Man: SRB: 9/11. AUS: 1/14.

Pens: SRB: 2/2.

SERBIA: Lazar Dobozanov, Mateja Arsanovic (2), Radomir Drasovic, Mihajlo Repanovic (2), Gavril Subotic (7), Ivan Gvozdanovic, Drasko Gogov (5), Nebojsa Toholj (2), Marko Manojlovic (2), Filip Radojevic, Milan Vitorovic. Head Coach: Vladmir Vujasinovic.

AUSTRALIA: Anthony Hrysanthos, Nicholas Brooks, Angus Lambie (2), Christopher Perrott (4), William Armstrong (1), Jordan Kremers-Taylor (2), William Mackay, Leo Hurley, Andrew Ford, James Smith, Sam Cocokios. Head Coach: Slobodan Macic.

Match report:
Serbia looked all class in defeating Australia by a healthy margin. The Serbs had crisper passing, tighter defence and extra power on attack, especially on the extra-man attack where it was clinical. Accuracy of shooting also played a huge part. The Australians struggled to match Serbia at times, although did throw in some excellent goals. However, its better route to a barrel of goals could have come via extra-man situations but excellent Serbian defence denied even this avenue. Although the tournament is just four matches old, Serbia looks to have won the group as both teams have to play Mexico and Iran in coming days and should expect less intensive encounters. For Serbia, the 5-0 opening lead provided the springboard for success and even at that stage, Serbian head coach Vladimir Vujasinovic, no stranger to the big time, was telling his bench players to settle and not get overtaken with emotion as it is obviously a long week until the finals. By halftime, Serbia took its foot off the accelerator a little, but still wanted to make a huge statement. Keep an eye out for Gavril Subotic, who blasted in seven goals, three in the final quarter. Christopher Perrott scored in each of the quarters to finish Australia’s best, but was fouled out after straight after his fourth goal.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 8: 17:00, Group D, UZBEKISTAN 10 SPAIN 25

Quarters: 2-4, 4-5, 0-8, 4-8

Referees: Liang Zhang (CHN), Nick Hodgers (AUS).

Extra Man: UZB: 5/12. ESP: 5/10.

Pens: 0/1. ESP: 2/2.

UZBEKISTAN: Radion Knabibullaev, Mirjalol Nagmatov, Doniyor Umarov (1), Artur Kim, Maksim Krakhotin (2), Aleksey Zaytsev, Kirill Rustamov (5), Egor Chumachenko (2), Grorgiy Mamedov, Aleksey Massel, Khayotson Rakhimov. Head Coach: Aleksandr Sokolov.

SPAIN: Miguel Linares, Sergei Cabanas, Guillem Garcia (2), Marc Corbalan (2), Xavier Serra (6), Alvaro Granados (1), Borsa Fenoy (4), Agusti Pericas (5), Roger Tahull (3), Alesandro Bustos (2), Alfonso Lopez-Saez. Head Coach: Quim Colet.

Match Report:

Spain rained second-half goals into Uzbekistan’s cage to get off to an excellent start in the tournament. At 9-6 by halftime it was anyone’s game, but a Spanish surge in the third period and a brick wall on defence blew the match apart, something that continued in the final period.  Uzbekistan worked hard all around the pool, but its depth of quality players did not stretch as far as Spain’s. The second-quarter ousting of Sergi Cabanas for violence reduced some of Spain’s firepower and left Uzbekistan’s Maksim Krakhotin bleeding from the nose. However, as Spain settled further into the match, combinations clicked and goals kept coming. Uzbekistan’s Kirill Rustamov, the undoubted shooting star of the 2012 FINA World Youth Championships in Perth, Australia, led his team effectively from the top and gaining exclusions. He could have lifted his tally to six if he had not surged so far forward during a last-quarter penalty attempt. Spain needed a hard hit-out to prepare for Saturday’s clash with Italy in what could decide the five-team group. Xavier Serra, who scored four of his six goals in the final quarter, and Agusti Pericas with five, were Spain’s best scorers.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 7: 19:00, Group D, ITALY 16 KAZAKHSTAN 9

Quarters: 4-2, 4-2, 5-1, 3-4

Referees: Ulrich Spiegel (GER), Haldun Toygarli (TUR).

Extra Man: ITA: 6/16.  KAZ: 5/9.

Pens: ITA: 1/1. KAZ: 1/2.

ITALY: Fabio Viola, Umberto Esposito (1), Edoardo di Somma (2), Antonio Maccioni, Gianluigi Foglio, Roberto Ravina (3), Vincenzo Dolce (5), Eduardo Campopiano (1), Jacopo Alesiani (1), Alessandro Velotto (3), Gianmarco Nicosia. Head Coach: Ferdinando Pasci.

KAZAKHSTAN: Aleksandr Lopatkin, Stanislav Shedov, Ruslan Akhmetov (1), Sultan, Shonzhigitov, Miras Aubakirov (1), Sergey Bogomolov (1), Maxim Zhardan (4), Egor Berbelyuk (1), Altay Altayev, Yulian Verdesh (1), Valeriy Shlemov. Head Coach: Nemanja Knezevic.

Match report:

Italy dampened the enthusiasm of the packed house immediately following the opening ceremony, with a classy victory, built on skill and sharp decision-making. It was not too easy for Italy in the first half with Kazakhstan hanging on like a limpet, lifted by the chant “Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan!” However, as the third quarter came and went, so did the host’s chances of victory. Italy had the snappier players, flicking the ball around the shorter arc while under immense pressure. Then the strong arm of Italy savagely whipped the ball into the back of the net with a regularity that Kazakhstan did not enjoy. The finishing of Vincenzo Dolce was a joy to watch as Italy seemed to relish the new format and obviously wants to be at the sharp end next weekend. Kazakhstan struggled with major fouls and three players exited the match closer to the final whistle. Kazakhstan can be proud of its efforts, especially winning the fourth period and its extra-man count, and the loss might be just the spur for success as the tournament progresses.

Photo: Russell McKinnon