Croatia earns fourth quarterfinal berth on fifth day of FINA Junior Men’s World Championship

FINA World Junior Water Polo Championships

Almaty, September 8.— Croatia became the last of the quarterfinalists, claiming Group A on the fifth day of the FINA Junior Men’s World Water Polo Championships.

In beating South Africa 31-4, Croatia has gained a rest day and joins Hungary, Serbia and Italy as group winners.

In Group B, Greece drew with Netherlands, gaining second place on a better losing goal differential against group winner Hungary, and Japan had the better of China 19-10 for fourth spot in the five-team group.

In Group C, Mexico took third place with an 18-13 result over Iran.

In Group C, Mexico took third place with an 18-13 result over Iran.

In Group D, Spain took second place and nudged Canada into fourth spot with a 19-9 victory, while Kazakhstan sent off neighbour Uzbekistan for third position thanks to a 13-12 scoreline.

Final points:

Group A: Croatia 6, Montenegro 4, Egypt 2, South Africa 0.

Group B: Hungary 8, Greece 5, Netherlands 5, Japan 2, China 0.

Group C: Serbia 6, Australia 4, Mexico 2, Iran 0.

Group D: Italy 8, Spain 6, Kazakhstan 4, Canada 2, Uzbekistan 0.

Wednesday’s preliminary-round schedule:

Round 13-16

41.    10:00        4A    RSA v       5D    UZB

44.    11:20        5B    CHN v       4C    IRI

Round 1-12

46     12:40        2B    GRE v       3C    MEX

47     15:40        3A    EGY v       2D    ESP

48     17:00        3B    NED v       2C    AUS

45     18:20        2A    MNE v       3D    KAZ

Tuesday Match Reports

Match 39: 18:20, Group D, KAZAKHSTAN 13 UZBEKISTAN 12

Quarters: 2-3, 3-0, 3-2, 5-7

Referees: Ulrich Spiegel (GER), Andrej Franulovic (CRO).

Extra Man: KAZ 6/16. UZB: 8/15.

Pens: KAZ: 1/2.

KAZAKHSTAN: Aleksandr Lopatkin, Stanislav Shedov (3), Ruslan Akhmetov (1), Sultan, Shonzhigitov, Miras Aubakirov, Sergey Bogomolov, Maxim Zhardan (4), Egor Berbelyuk (3), Altay Altayev (1), Yulian Verdesh (1), Valeriy Shlemov. Head Coach: Nemanja Knezevic.
UZBEKISTAN: Radion Knabibullaev, Mirjalol Nagmatov, Doniyor Umarov, Artur Kim, Maksim Krakhotin (1), Aleksey Zaytsev, Kirill Rustamov (9), Egor Chumachenko (1), Grorgiy Mamedov (1), Aleksey Massel, Khayotson Rakhimov. Head Coach: Aleksandr Sokolov.

Match report:
Kazakhstan won its second consecutive match and finished third in the group, sending Uzbekistan home winless. It was a close and tough encounter with Uzbekistan holding the lead at quarter time and then trailing by two at halftime, much to the relief of the huge hometown spectator base. Kazakhstan shifted to a three-goal advantage heading into the last and went to 10-5, only for Uzbekistan to fight back thanks to Kirill Rustamov, who already had four goals. When Kazakhstan was 12-10 ahead, Rustamov shot and scored for 12-11. Uzbekistan had a sniff of a draw. Uzbekistan immediately called an illegal timeout and Kazakhstan elected to go to the penalty line, which it did to score for 13-11. It was still 11 seconds left. Uzbekistan moved upwards and Rustamov scored for 13-12 and he still tried to get the ball of Kazakhstan, which he did not. Rustamov scored five goals for a game-high nine, to no avail. The illegal timeout caught everyone out and it nearly derailed the host team. It was the most thrilling match of the day. Midway through the final period, Aleksey Massel interfered with a penalty shot and was suspended. Head coach Aleksandr Sokolov, two hours after having dinner following the match, suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital where he was operated on and is was reported in a comfortable condition the next morning. 

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 40: 17:00, Group D, CANADA 9 SPAIN 19

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

Referees: Michail Skalochoritis (GRE), Erwin Schapers (NED).

Extra Man: CAN: 3/6. ESP: 4/5.

Pens: Nil.

CANADA: Samuel Reiber, Giordano Marconuto, Maxime Schapowal (1), Gaelan Patterson, Matthew Halajian (3), Julien Allard (2), Paule Kotarac, Sean Spooner (3), Jeremie Blanchard, Aria Suleimanipak, Benjamin Bolduc. Head Coach: Nikola Maric.
SPAIN: Miguel Linares, Sergei Cabanas (4), Guillem Garcia (2), Marc Corbalan (1), Xavi Serra (2), Alvaro Granados (3), Borsa Fenoy (2), Agusti Pericas (2), Roger Tahull (3), Alesandro Bustos, Alfonso Lopez-Saez. Head Coach: Quim Colet.

Match Report:
Spain grabbed second spot in the group for its third win, suffering only to Italy. Canada was hoping for a second win, but the strength and accuracy of Spain’s shooting proved the winner. With the likes of Sergi Cabanas from the top and the rest of his team in fine form, Canada did not stand a chance, despite putting away nine goals and having an excellent second half. When Spain stretched the margin to 11-2, three minutes into the second half, the match was virtually over. The match proved interesting with a low foul count and players allowed to get on with the game. The hard-working Matthew Halajian and Sean Spooner nabbed three each for Canada.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 38: 15:40, Group C, IRAN 13 MEXICO 18

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

Referees: Luca Bianco (ITA), Akbar Sadikov (UZB).

Extra Man: IRI: 4/7. MEX: 6/11.

Pens: MEX: 1/1.

IRAN: Hamed Karimi, Masoud Ahmadi (4), Mehdi Yazdankhah (1), Arshia Almasi (2), Amirhossein Keihany, Peiman Asadiaghajari (2), Mohammadmahdi Heydari (1), Hamidreza Moghaddam (2), Soheil Rostamian (1), Aminghavidel Hajiagha, Shayan Ghasemidaryan. Head Coach: Vahid Rezaeiashtiyani.
MEXICO: Alfredo de la Mova, Hazed Veya, Raul Vargus, Raul Muniz (1), Rodrigo Avalos (3), Sinahi Gonzalez (5), Arturo Ocejo (1), Alexey Grubnik (2), Diego Mercado (2), Jorge Cervantes (4), Isaac Contreras. Head Coach: Raul de la Pena.

Match report:

Mexico took third in a four-team group with an inspiring victory over Iran. It was an entertaining match going for the all-important win and Mexico gained its first of the tournament. Mexico started strongly for three unanswered goals until Iran awoke and levelled at 3-3 and, in fact, went 5-4 ahead on extra just before quarter time. From then on Mexico had the edge, however, the match was tied at 5-5, 6-6 and 7-7 a minute into the third period. In a three-minute span the match was blown open with Mexico advancing the score to 12-8 only to have the margin trimmed to three at the final break. Iran twice brought the margin back to three in the final quarter, only to lose by five. Iran’s best shooter, Massoud Ahmadi had four goals in the cage before he was sent from the match with 4:08 remaining for violence. Sinai Gonzalez scored two of the first three goals for Mexico and netted another three in the final quarter. Mexican Diego Mercado proved a handful at centre forward and was rewarded with two goals while many more of his attempts were blocked.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 36: 12:40, Group B, JAPAN 19 CHINA 10

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

Referees: Michael Baty (RSA), Mikhail Dykman (CAN).

Extra Man: JPN: 6/10. CHN: 2/5.

Pens: JPN: 1/1.

JAPAN: Kazuki Hashimoto, Kenta Araki, Mitsuru Takata (2), Shuma Kawamoto, Shotaro Yamada, Daichi Nagano (2), Shu Hamada (4), Seiya Adachi (9), Miki Sato (2), Kohei Inaba, Ryosuke Oshima. Head Coach: Yoshinori Shiota.
CHINA: Guozheng Wei, Zekai Xie, Zhongxzan Chen (3), Jiahao Peng, Rongkun Lie, Bezyi Wang (3), Yingyi Gao (4), Rui Chen, Yi Lu, Dong Ni, Xiang Fu. Head Coach: Yaohua Chen.

Match Report:
Japan secured fourth in the five-team group with a topsy-turvy win over China. Japan dominated the first quarter and China the second before the Japan steamroller was set in motion. Japan’s chances of winning easier were given no help when star centre forward Kenta Araki firstly gained an exclusion and then seemingly head-butted the excluded player, so was red-carded in the late-second-quarter incident. It was an unusual minute as China made the most of the suspension to score, drawing level at 6-6. Then China regained the ball, took a timeout and Zhongxzan Chen fired the shot for a 7-6 lead with one second left. Japan, not to be out-done, fired the ball off the restart and the buzzer sounded, but the ball sailed on into the Chinese net for 7-7. Japan made adjustments without Araki and went on scoring. Seiya Adachi enjoyed the romp with nine goals, scoring three in the first and another three in the third period. Yingyi Gao scored his four goals in the first half for China, quite significant with the level score.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 35: 11:20, Group B, GREECE 7 NETHERLANDS 7

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

Referees: Radu Matache (ROU), Sinisa Matijasevic (MNE).

Extra Man: GRE: 3/5. NED: 3/10.

Pens: GRE: 2/2. NED: 2/2.

GREECE: Emmanouil Zerdevas, Nikolaos Kopeliadis (2), Michail Sartzetakis, Angelos Foskolos, Stylianos Argyropoulos-Kanakkis, Dmitrios Nicolaidis (1), Panteleimon Kalogerakos (3), Grigorios Kapetanakis (1), Christos Papoukas, Alexandros Athymaritis, Rafail Forotzidis. Head Coach: Theodoros Chatzitheodorou.
NETHERLANDS: Milan Koff, Kjeld Veenhuis (2), Guus  van Yperen, Sam Burg, Guus Wolswinkel, Tarik Scherrenburg, Harmen Muller (2), Pascal Janssen, Bilal Gbadamassi, Benjamin Hoepelman (3), Brent Hofmeyer. Head Coach: Jacob Spijker.

Match report:
Netherlands needed to win and Greece was content with a draw to finish second in the group. It came down to who had the better goal difference against the top team in the group — Hungary — and Netherlands was -10 and Greece -8. At 7-7 the match was never clear-cut. It should have been in the final five minutes, but Greece squandered numerous opportunities with poor decision-making when shooting. Two such shots led to the Dutch scoring from the deep left by Harmen Muller at 4:06 to level the match at 7-7. Greece too often committed needless fouls, giving the Dutch plenty of chances to score. Stout defence in the dying minutes gave Greece the draw. Greece took the first lead, Netherlands went to 2-1, 3-2, 4-3, but Greece levelled just before halftime and took the lead again at the start of the third period. It was Greece’s turn to command and went out to 7-5 at 2:09 in the third. The one-goal final period showed the intensity between the two teams and the excellent defence at both ends of the pool. If the Dutch could convert extra-man attack, it would have won easily. Both coaches were animated with Greek coach Theodoros Chatzitheodorou particularly so. Both received yellow cards in the last half-minute of the third period.

Photo: Russell McKinnon

Match 34: 10:00, Group A, CROATIA 31 SOUTH AFRICA 4

Quarters: 6-1, 8-1, 7-1, 10-1

Referees: Daniel Vazquez (MEX) Liang Zhang (CHN).

Extra Man: CRO: 11/11. RSA: 1/3.

Pens: Nil

CROATIA: Marin Sparada, Loren Fatovic (3), Rino Buric (6), Andro Gagulic (3), Antun Goreta (6), Andrija Basic (5), Luka Lozina, Antonio Buha (4), Ivan Zovic (2), Ivan Zivkovic (2), Marin Jukic. Head Coach: Miho Bobic.

SOUTH AFRICA: Gareth May, Roarke Olver, Tim Rezelman, Shane Fourie (2), Claudio Fernandes, Nicholas Downes, Jason Evezard (1), Liam Neill (1), Keanan Alexander, Wyatt Edwards, Themba Mthembu. Head Coach: Jason Sileno.

Match Report:
Croatia was far too strong for South Africa and forced the Africans into basic errors. Too often the passing was wayward or too high to the centre forward and Croatia was keen to snap up and slowly progress the game up the pool. Croatia needed little intensity, instead saving energy for the finals, which it now enjoys with a day off as the group winner. Croatia started two days later than most and three big victories may not be the best preparation for what will be tough finals. Eight Croatians made the scoresheet with Rino Buric and Antonio Goreta scoring six apiece.The extra-man statistic was probably close to a world record at this level, with Croatia converting all 11 chances.

Photo: Russell McKinnon