Croatia impressive in third-day action of FINA Junior Men’s World Championship

FINA World Junior Water Polo Championships

Almaty, September 6.— Croatia entered the tournament with s statement victory over Montenegro on day three of the FINA Junior Men’s Water Polo World Championship.

In a quirk of the draw, and the non-appearance of two nations, Croatia had two days off while other teams were competing.

A solid 14-7 margin over unbeaten Montenegro, means it should now win twice more to secure the group and enter the quarterfinals.

In the other Group A match, Egypt had a resounding 24-8 victory over South Africa.

In Group B, Greece had an impressive 25-8 first win over China and Hungary shrugged off a defiant Japan 16-9 for its third victory.

In Group C at the start of the day, Australia beat Mexico 20-5 for its first win and Serbia, playing with two men ill again, beat Iran 18-6. It was Iran’s opening match.

In Group D, Italy had to work to beat Canada 16-11 and Spain bettered Kazakhstan 21-13 in the feature match of the evening session.

Points after day three:

Group A: Montenegro 4, Croatia 2, Egypt 2, South Africa 0.

Group B: Hungary 6, Netherlands 4, Greece 2, Japan 0, China 0.

Group C: Serbia 6, Australia 2, Mexico 0, Iran 0.

Group D: Italy 6, Spain 4, Canada 2, Uzbekistan 0, Kazakhstan 0.

Match 19: 20:20, Group D, KAZAKHSTAN 13 SPAIN 21

Quarters: 3-7, 3-3, 4-7, 3-4

Referees: Miodrag Stefanovic (SRB), Nick Hodgers (AUS).

Extra Man: KAZ: 3/10. ESP: 8/11.

Pens: KAZ: 1/1. ESP: 0/1.

KAZAKHSTAN: Aleksandr Lopatkin, Stanislav Shedov (3), Ruslan Akhmetov, Sultan, Shonzhigitov, Miras Aubakirov (2), Sergey Bogomolov, Maxim Zhardan (4), Egor Berbelyuk (2), Altay Altayev (1), Yulian Verdesh (1), Valeriy Shlemov. Head Coach: Nemanja Knezevic.
SPAIN: Miguel Linares, Sergei Cabanas (6), Guillem Garcia (1), Marc Corbalan (1), Xavi Serra (1), Alvaro Granados, Borsa Fenoy (1), Agusti Pericas (2), Roger Tahull (8), Alesandro Bustos (1), Alfonso Lopez-Saez. Head Coach: Quim Colet.

Match report:
Spain gained its second win from three outings with an interesting victory over Kazakhstan. The local team was heavily back and surprised some with excellent play and plenty of goals. Spain looked the classier team, despite the close presence of the local team, working like a constant thorn in its side. The smaller ball helped with some of the rocket shots and better ball control, especially from the Spaniards, made for spectacular shooting. It was Kazakhstan’s second loss and came after a rest day on Saturday. Kazakhstan will be keen to see how it matches up against Canada on Monday night, when the competition returns to six-match days ahead of the quarterfinals on Thursday. Roger Tahull netted eight goals and Sergi Cabanas six for the victors. Maxim Zhardan was the best for Kazakhstan.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 24: 19:00, Group B, HUNGARY 16 JAPAN 9

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

Referees: Viktor Salnichenko (KAZ), Luca Bianco (ITA).

Extra Man: HUN: 4/7. JPN: 3/13.

Pens: Nil

HUNGARY: Istvan Kardos, Marcell Kolozsi (3), Zoltan Pohl, Tamas Sedlmayer (2), Adam Nagy (2), Balasz Kalanovics (1), Gergo Zalanki (3), Gergo Kovacs, Krisztian Peter Manhercz (3), Simon Benedek Vogel (2), Soma Vogel. Head Coach: Gyorgi Horkai.
JAPAN: Kazuki Hashimoto, Kenta Araki (1), Mitsuru Takata, Shuma Kawamoto, Shotaro Yamada (1), Daichi Nagano (1), Shu Hamada (1), Seiya Adachi (4), Miki Sato (1), Kohei Inaba, Ryosuke Oshima. Head Coach: Yoshinori Shiota.

Match report:
Hungary had a tough task on its hands with Japan thwarting many scoring attacks in the first half. Hungary seemed to be under the spell of Japan for long periods of the first half and Japan had plenty of opportunities to score. Japan used its traditional swimming and driving game, but seemed to be out of synch with the passers, which meant many extra-man chances did not occur. In the third period Hungary decided to play its game and started stealing the ball like Japan had earlier. These chances led to counters and goals. Then the outside shooters gained some rhythm and the match swung the way of Hungary, even though Japan would not be shaken off. It was two different halves for the Hungarians and Japan left players unguarded for nano-seconds and the Hungarians were swift to react. It was entertaining throughout. Japan scored the last goal with three seconds left in what was its best eight minutes. Seiya Adachi was the game’s highest scorer with two goals in each of the final two periods. Japan had the better of the foul count, but could not convert 10 chances.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 23: 17:40, Group B, GREECE 25 CHINA 8

Quarters: 6-3, 5-3, 7-1, 7-1

Referees: Jaume Teixido (ESP), Ulrich Spiegel (GER).

Extra Man: GRE: 6/8. CHN: 3/11.

Pens: GRE: 3/3. CHN: 2/2.

GREECE: Emmanouil Zerdevas, Nikolaos Kopeliadis (6), Michail Sartzetakis, Angelos Foskolos (6), Stylianos Argyropoulos-Kanakkis (5), Dmitrios Nicolaidis (3), Panteleimon Kalogerakos (2), Grigorios Kapetanakis (1), Christos Papoukas (1), Alexandros Athymaritis (1), Rafail Forotzidis. Head Coach: Theodoros Chatzitheodorou.
CHINA: Guozheng Wei, Zekai Xie (1), Zhongxzan Chen (3), Jiahao Peng, Rongkun Lie, Bezyi Wang, Yingyi Gao (2), Rui Chen (2), Yi Lu, Dong Ni, Xiang Fu. Head Coach: Yaohua Chen.

Match report:
Greece returned from a day off to win its first match after Friday’s disappointing 17-9 loss to Hungary. Greece proved to be more cohesive and a team capable of heading to the finals. China struggled to maintain any momentum and had to snatch goals where it could. Greece stole the ball on numerous occasions and went on counter to increase the lead. China looked better in the first half that it did against Netherlands and Hungary, but the final two periods were disastrous as Greece won both 7-1. The match was littered with penalties and the double suspension of Jiahao Peng and Grigorios Kapetanakis late in the third period for fighting. Nikolaos Kopeliadis and Angelos Foskolos scored six each for Greece.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 22: 16:20, Group A, MONTENEGRO 7 CROATIA 14

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

Referees: Michail Schalochoritis (GRE), Balazs Szekely (HUN).

Extra Man: MNE: 5/10. CRO: 8/10.

Pens: MNE: 0/1.

MONTENEGRO: Aresenije Stanovic, Ugjesa Vukasovic, Dorde Bulatovic (2), Dusan Matkovic, Matija Brguljan, Nicolas Savejic (3), Danilo Adzic (1), Stefan Porobic, Filip Gardasevic (1), Janko Krivokapic, Milija Mandic. Head Coach: Zoran Maslovar.
CROATIA: Marin Sparada, Loren Fatovic, Rino Buric (3), Andro Gagulic (1), Antun Goreta (3), Andrija Basic (1), Luka Lozina, Antonio Buha (4), Ivan Zovic (1), Ivan Zivkovic (1), Marin Jukic. Head Coach: Miho Bobic.

Match Report:
Croatia burst into championship reckoning with its opening win of the tournament on day three. The ease with which it packed off Montenegro was impressive. Controlled, tight play and superb defence made it very hard for Montenegro to be a real threat. It was Montenegro’s first defeat in three matches, having beaten Egypt and South Africa. Montenegro led 1-0 and 2-1 in the opening quarter before Croatia had the quarter-time lead, shot out to 5-2 before Montenegro came back to 4-5. By halftime Croatia was well on top, produced a clean sheet in the third and went 13-4 ahead before allowing some slack. Antonio Buha top-scored with four goals as his team defeated the main opposition to group supremacy, although Egypt might think differently about that before Monday’s clash between the two.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 21: 14:00, Group A, EGYPT 24 SOUTH AFRICA 8

Quarters: 5-0, 8-2, 6-2, 5-4

Referees: Erwin Schapers (NED), Daniel Daners (URU).

Extra Man: EGY: 6/12. RSA: 2/7.

Pens: EGY: 1/1. RSA: 0/1

EGYPT: Omara Osama, Moustafa Essmat (4), Aly Elaassar (2), Mahmoud Tarek (1), Ahmed Barakat (4), Abdelrahman Haroun, Ahmed Sherif (7), Hassan Haroun (3), Karim Mahmoud (1), Mahomed Mohsen (2), Marwan Ayman. Head Coach: Denes Lukacs.
SOUTH AFRICA: Gareth May, Roarke Olver, (1) Tim Rezelman (2), Shane Fourie, Claudio Fernandes (1), Nicholas Downes, Jason Evezard (3), Liam Neill (1), Keanan Alexander, Wyatt Edwards, Themba Mthembu. Head Coach: Jason Sileno.

Match report:
Egypt proved its worth with a stunning victory over South Africa. The Egyptians had a day off competition on Saturday following a 14-11 loss to Montenegro on Friday. Eager to prove that it was worthy of beating the Montenegrins, Egypt came out firing and had an 8-0 start before South Africa slotted its first. Sloppy passing by South Africa proved critical, Egypt snapping up every loose ball. The clinical play of Egypt sets itself up for Monday’s clash with Croatia, a team that was only scheduled to play its first match late in the afternoon of day three. Ahmed Sherif enjoyed the outing with seven goals, scoring in all four quarters, a feat also achieved by Ahmed Barakat. South Africa struggled with the fouls and three players failed to see the end of the match. Two of South Africa’s goals came in the last 33 seconds, one on counter and one with a smart pass down the left to a free man.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 20: 12:40, Group D, ITALY 16 CANADA 11

Quarters: 4-1, 6-3, 3-5, 3-2

Referees: Radu Matache (ROU), Liang Zhang (CHN).

Extra Man: ITA: 4/6. CAN: 3/7.

Pens: ITA: 2/2. CAN: 0/1.

ITALY: Fabio Viola, Umberto Esposito (1), Edoardo di Somma, Antonio Maccioni (3), Gianluigi Foglio (3), Roberto Ravina (3), Vincenze Dolce (1), Eduardo Campopiano (1), Jacopo Alesiani, Alessandro Velotto (3), Gianmarco Nicosia. Head Coach: Ferdinando Pasci.
CANADA: Samuel Reiber, Giordano Marconuto, Maxime Schapowal, Gaelan Patterson (2), Matthew Halajian (2), Julien Allard, Benjamin Bolduc (2), Sean Spooner (2), Jeremie Blanchard, Aria Suleimanipak (3), Paule Kotarac. Head Coach: Nikola Maric.

Match Report:
Italy is one win away from group victory, picking up its third win with a more balanced match than the game shown by Canada. Canada was coming off a last-gasp victory over Uzbekistan (Italy’s final opponent in the group stage on Monday morning) and played with that intensity for periods, not all the time. Chances in the third period were not taken and too often players hesitated in front of goal when penetrating gaps were available, which was surprising as it was Canada’s finest period. Italy was consistent throughout and gave the impression it could have lifted another notch if needed.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 18: 11:20, Group C, SERBIA 18 IRAN 6

Quarters: 4-2, 4-1, 5-3, 5-0

Referees: Mikhail Dykman (CAN), Akbar Sadikov (UZB).

Extra Man: SRB: 5/7. IRI: 2/4.

Pens: SRB: 1/1. IRI: 0/1.

SERBIA: Lazar Dobozanov, Mihajlo Repanovic (3), Gavril Subotic (3), Ivan Gvozdanovic (2), Drasko Gogov (1), Nebojsa Toholj (2), Marko Manojlovic (4), Filip Radojevic (3), Milan Vitorovic. Head Coach: Vladmir Vujasinovic.
IRAN: Hamed Karimi, Masoud Ahmadi, Mehdi Yazdankhah, Arshia Almasi, Amirhossein Keihany (1), Peiman Asadiaghajari (2), Mohammadmahdi Heydari (1), Hamidreza Moghaddam (2), Soheil Rostamian, Aminghavidel Hajiagha, Shayan Ghasemidaryan. Head Coach: Vahid Rezaeiashtiyani.

Match report:
Once gain Serbia played without Mateja Arsanovic and Radomir Drasovic, who have fevers, but was still good enough to deliver the killer blow to an inspired and efficient Iran. It was Iran’s opening match, on the third day, and its players delivered when needed against players of a much higher calibre. True, Serbia was not playing with full intensity, but making sure of a third victory, and the group dominance and now will take a three-day break before the quarterfinals. Iran was competitive after being 2-0 down and scored three in the third period. However, it tired considerably in the final eight minutes as Serbia lifted for the final punch. The two penalty attempts were in the last period with only Serbia converting.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 17: 10:00, Group C, AUSTRALIA 20 MEXICO 5

Quarters: 5-0, 3-0, 6-1, 6-4

Referees: Sinisa Matijasevic (MNE), Michael Baty (RSA).

Extra Man: AUS:  7/14. MEX: 1/1.

Pens: AUS: 0/1. MEX: 1/1.

AUSTRALIA: Anthony Hrysanthos, Nicholas Brooks (2), Angus Lambie (2), Christopher Perrott (1), William Armstrong (3), Jordan Kremers-Taylor (3), William Mackay (5), Leo Hurley (1), Andrew Ford (3), James Smith, Sam Cocokios. Head Coach: Slobodan Macic.
MEXICO: Alfredo de la Mova, Hazed Veya, Raul Vargus, Raul Muniz, Rodrigo Avalos, Sinahi Gonzalez (1), Arturo Ocejo (2), Alexey Grubnik, Diego Mercado (2), Jorge Cervantes, Isaac Contreras. Head Coach: Raul de la Pena.

Match Report:
Australia gained its first win after a first-day loss to Serbia, showing better skills and finishing against Mexico. It took Mexico until the third period to earn an extra-man goal for 8-1 as Australia countered, had the superior firepower, strength and skills. Mexican Jorge Cervantes gained a red card early in the third period for misconduct — the third red card at the tournament. He will not receive a match suspension. Mexico was more motivated in front of goal in the final period, scoring four goals, including a penalty strike. Arturo Ocejo and Diego Mercado scored two each in the period. The best for Australia was William Mackay with five goals, mainly from down the deep left and on counter.

Photo: Russell McKinnon