Men's World League 2014, Day 5: Serbia aiming for eighth title in final rematch with Hungary

World League

Serbia will be gunning for an incredible eighth crown when it takes on world champion Hungary in Saturday’s final of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

With a gold-medal berth, both teams have already won this week by claiming the two qualification berths for next year’s FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

The two teams clashed in last year’s final in Chelyabinsk, Russia with Serbia winning 12-7. Hungary won the last of its two consecutive World League crowns in 2004 when it beat Serbia & Montenegro in Long Beach, USA.

Serbia charged into the final with an impressive 12-5 score over Australia. The Aussie Sharks were no match for the stronger Serbians, especially Filip Filipovic, who scored four of the first five goals and added a fifth in the final quarter for a tournament-high 14 goals.

Hungary kept its sheet clean with a 10-8 victory over a depleted Montenegro team that has been struggling to find cohesion all week, but found it tonight. Hungary started strongly once it overcame the first Montenegro goal, and the biggest scare was when the Montenegrins levelled the match at 5-5 halfway through the third period.

In the round of five to eight semifinals, United States of America outplayed China 15-5 in a match where USA head coach Dejan Udovicic (SRB) was red-carded in the last minute. He will miss the five-six play-off on Saturday.

The most exciting match-up between Brazil and Canada saw Brazil go four goals ahead with three minutes remaining in the match. Then Justin Boyd, back from a first-day injury scare, slammed in an incredible four goals to level with three seconds left and send the match to a penalty shootout. Both teams rattled in their five goals and Canada scored twice in sudden death only for Brazil’s usually reliable Adrian Delgado hit the crossbar to see Canada advance to the five-sixth play-off.

Saturday programme:
14.30: CHN v BRA (7th/8th place)
15.50: USA v CAN (5th/6th place)
17.10: MNE v AUS (3rd/4th place)
18.30: HUN v SRB (1st/2nd place)

Match 17: 14:30, 5-8 Semifinal, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 15 CHINA 5
Quarters: 4-1, 6-1, 1-2, 4-1
Referees: Edmundo Rodriques (BRA), Hatem Gaber (EGY).

Extra Man: USA: 4/7. CHN: 0/8.
Pens: USA: 1/1.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: McQuin Baron, Nick Bell (1), Alex Obert, Michael Rosenthal (1), Anthony Daboub (2), Conner Cleary, Josh Samuels (1), Bret Bonnani (2), Alex Bowen (6), Nolan McConnell, Jackson Kimbell, John Mann (2), Jon Sibley. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.
CHINA: Zhiwei Liang, Feihu Tan (1), Lun Li, Zekai Xie, Junliang Guo (1), Ning Pan (1), Zhongxian Chen, Liang Gu, Tao Dong (2), Jinghao Chen, Chufeng Zhang, Nianxiang Liang, Chengcheng Qiu. Head Coach: Paolo Malara.

United States of America continued its improvement, thanks to a solid, tournament-high six-goal effort by Alexander Bowen. Bowen scored three of the first four goals as USA stamped its authority on the match. He scored the eighth and ninth goals for 9-2 with two minutes left of the second quarter and converted a penalty at the start of the third. It was not all Bowen, but instead, a powerful team effort that showed the improvement of the team from the start of the week. China was out of sorts, still stranded a little without the services of Jinghao Chen, who was taken to hospital the night before with suspected broken ribs during the second quarter of the clash with Hungary. His ribs are intact, but Chen was content to watch from the team bench today. China struggled on finishing options, especially with USA’s suffocating defence. China rebounded in the second half, but had a tough task considering the 10-2 halftime margin. With John Mann captaining from the forward line and smart passing that created open players, USA was playing attractive, flowing water polo. Sadly for the team, head coach Dejan Udovicic was red-carded at 4:50 in the final quarter, having picked up a yellow during a timeout earlier. He will serve a one-match suspension on Saturday during the five-six play-off. He was also red-carded at the Barcelona FINA World Championships last year. While China’s mini revival for three goals out of four spreading the final break, USA swam away with the match — Bret Bonnani (from five metres and then on extra) and Anthony Daboub for his second (counter) netting the last.

USA vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Dejan Udovicic (SRB) — USA Head Coach
“I’m glad we responded after yesterday (against Hungary). It was good to be going in the right direction. Every game is important and we are trying to finish with a win tomorrow. We need such experiences, bad and good from this tournament to learn for the future.”

Alexander Bowen (USA) — Six Goals

“I haven’t scored that many goals before in a tournament. I’m pretty excited. We started working a lot for each other and sacrificing the body for everyone else. I was definitely working harder and my teammates worked for me and that actually opened up opportunities for me. It was really a team effort.”

Paolo Malara (ITA) — China Head Coach
“USA were very good, China very tired. The mind is very tired and it’s very difficult, but given it 100 percent in every match. We don’t have an easy match tomorrow but hopefully we will get a good result. I believe in my work and the moment it is step to step working with these young players and preparing them mentally for these big games is very important.”

Ning Pan (CHN) — Left Hander
“Two guys didn’t play and it made a big difference. It was difficult against a big team. We came in expecting to place eighth.”

Match 18: 15:50, 5-8 semifinal, BRAZIL 13 CANADA 14 in sudden death penalty shootout (FT: 7-7. Pens: 5-5. SD: 2-1)
Quarters: 1-1, 1-1, 2-1, 3-4, 7-6
Referees: Daniel Flahive (AUS), Vojin Putnikovic (SRB).

Extra Man: BRA:  6/10. CAN: 3/17.
Pens: Nil.

BRAZIL: Vinicius Antonelli, Jonas Crivella (1), Guilherme Gomes (1), Gustavo Coutinho, Marcelo Franco (1), Bernardo Gomes (2), Adrian Delgado (3), Felipe Silva (2), Bernardo Rocha (1), Ruda Franco (2), Gustavo Guimaraes, Danilo Correa, Thye Bezerra. Head Coach: Ratko Rudic.
CANADA: Robin Randall, Constantine Kudaba (1), Oliver Vikalo, Nicolas Constantin-Bicari (2), Justin Boyd (5), Scott Robinson (2), Alec Taschereau (2), Kevin Graham (2), Dusan Radojcic, John Conway, Zacchary Kappos, Jared McElroy, Dusan Aleksic. Head Coach: Brian Parillo.

Justin Boyd, injured on day one and sleeping a night with a full brace, returned to water polo action today to steer Canada to a sudden-death, penalty-shootout victory over Brazil with a a five-goal haul. Boyd ignored the pain of a suspected broken arm and produced a dramatic four-goal burst in the last two minutes of the match to secure the victory and go on to the shootout win. They produced a low-scoring first half with impressive defence from both teams.  There was nothing between the nations with Brazil scoring first through Adrian Delgado on extra, followed two minutes later by Scott Robinson on extra, slamming the shot cross cage. Captain Kevin Graham made it 2-1 from deep right but within two minutes, Brazil levelled through Jonas Crivella form deep right on extra. Despite frantic efforts from both teams, there was no further scoring in the half. Brazil had the better of the third quarter with Ruda Franco converting extra-man attack after five minutes. The foul count was mounting on the scoreboard — probably the heaviest of the tournament — and tempers were flaring. Constantine Kudaba scored only the second action goal when he fired in from the left-hand-catch position on the next attack. Just inside two minutes, Guilherme Gomes wound up like a top with his right arm and sent in a screamer from the top for a 4-3 advantage that lasted until the final break. Those tempers exploded as the hooter blew for the break but the referees were equal to the task. Brazil, enjoying the lead, started the fourth period strongly with Delgado converting extra from a quick shot off a long cross pass for 5-3. Canada, under the guidance of Brian Parillo in the absence of the suspended head coach Alex Beslin, missed a double-exclusion chance on the next attack and then another two more extra plays as players started departing the match. By now, Brazil had three excluded players and Canada one with both sides having two players on two fouls. Brazilian captain Felipe Silva firstly snapped in an extra-man goal off the near post — that has been so effective for him this week — and then a turn at centre forward for a staggering 7-3 with three minutes remaining. Justin Boyd, making his return after sitting out the past three days, then broke the match open with four consecutive goals that dragged Canada screaming back into the game and on to a shootout. He scored two on counter and the third from four metres as the defence was stumbling. There were 40 seconds left on the clock and Brazil attacked and lost the ball and gave up an exclusion foul at 0:15. The play was set, the ball moved closely around the right side and, unbelievably, Boyd had the ball with three seconds left and scored from the left-hand-catch position. Tumult! Brazil’s shot was saved and the match went to a shootout. Both teams converted their five rotation goals. Canada scored both goals in sudden death and Brazil one before Delgado stepped up and fired his shot into the crossbar, giving Canada the win.

BRA vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Brain Parillo (CAN) — Acting Head Coach
"The heart rate is good. It’s not untypical of these guys not to give up. Lots of games we have been down three goals, but we were down by four, how much time, I don’t know. They had belief no matter what. We talked about playing to the last minute whatever happened.”
On Justin Boyd’s incredible effort: “Justin is a warrior. His injury checked out. I’ve known that kid since he was 11 years old and he has a fighting spirit.”

Justin Boyd (CAN) — Four-goal hero

“Against the States (USA) in the first game I hit my arm pretty hard and let it go for a few days. So I took yesterday off and felt better today so I got in and obviously for my team and myself it took us a while to get going, but once we did we controlled the game."

"In the past, playing against Brazil a lot being in the Americas together, they always bring it on us pretty hard and they never quit, no matter what. I’m really happy we pulled off that win, especially in a shootout having five different guys score goals for us.”

Ratko Rudic (CRO) — Brazil Head Coach
“For us we need to work on the psychological preparation. We had an advantage near the end of the game and we need to hold on to this. This is where we expected to be.”

Felipe Silva (BRA) — Captain
“It was only the last three minutes we stopped playing. We need to learn playing the whole game through. Other than that it was perfect.”

Match 19: 17:10, 1-4 Semifinal, MONTENEGRO 8 HUNGARY 10
Quarters: 2-3, 1-2, 4-4, 1-1
Referees: Filippo Gomez (ITA), Adrian Alexandrescu (ROU),

Extra Man: MNE:  3/11. HUN: 5/10.
Pens: MNE: 2/3. HUN: 1/1

MONTENEGRO: Zdravko Radic, Drasko Brguljan (1), Vjekoslav Paskovic, (1) Antonio Petrovic (1), Darko Brguljan (1), Dragan Draskovic, Mladan Janovic (2), Uros Cuckovic (1), Jovan Saric, Nikola Murisic, Filip Klikovac (1), Predrag Jokic, Milos Scepanovic. Head Coach: Ranko Perovic.
HUNGARY: Viktor Nagy, Miklos Gor-Nagy, Norbert Madaras (2), Balazs Erdelyi (3), Marton Vamos, Norbert Hosnyanszky (1), Daniel Angyal (1), Marton Szivos, Daniel Varga (1), Denes Varga (1), Marton Toth (1), Balazs Harai, Attila Decker. Head Coach: Tibor Benedek.

Montenegro turned up and played its best water polo of the week. With everyone writing the team off before the match, Montenegro was having none of it and took the match to Hungary until the bitter end. However, Hungary was the better team and grabbed the gold-medal berth and World Championship qualification. Uros Cuckovic opened the scoring and Hungary responded twice with Norbert Madaras goals. Marton Toth scored on counter and Hungary was well on the way at 3-1. Mladan Janovic replied with a penalty strike for his ninth goal of the week just inside the four-minute mark. Darko Brguljan pegged one back at the top of the second quarter from centre forward. Daniel Angyal from a cross-cage pass on extra and Balasz Erdelyi from the right-hand-catch position, also on extra gave Hungary a 5-3 lead 16 seconds before halftime.
The third period was a confusion of goals and excitement, especially with the best crowd of the week. Vjekoslav Paskovic and Janovic with a penalty goal had the game level at 5-5. Daniel Varga with a controversial five-metre goal and Norbert Hosnyanszky dragging back a high ball from the far post gave Hungary a 7-5 advantage. Drasko Brguljan on extra and two Erdelyi goals either side of an Antonio Petrovic action goal made it 8-7. Erdelyi netted his third with eight seconds left for 9-7. Janovic had his penalty blocked by Viktor Nagy at 4:40 in the final quarter. Denes Varga converted his penalty attempt on the next attack for 10-7. Both teams went to timeouts as the seconds ticked by to no avail on the scoreboard. Filip Klikovac dragged the ball down off the near post on extra at 0:54 for 10-8, but it was too late to earn a gold-medal-final berth. Daniel Varga earned a corner off a shot at 0:26 and Hungary played for time and the win was secured.

MNE vs HUN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Tibor Benedek (HUN) — Head Coach
“I’m very happy to be in the final tomorrow. We came here, we wanted to play Montenegro and Serbia and it’s important for our preparation for the European Championships. One is done and tomorrow we play Serbia, who, for me, is the favourite. This competition is very important to me. Last year we got second and it was a good start for this team for the season and it’s the same situation now, it’s good preparation and an important tournament.” On qualifying for the 2015 FINA World Championships: “I am delighted.”

Balasz Erdelyi (HUN) — Three goals

“The game went pretty well. What else can I say? We played well; we executed the game plan. We made some mistakes on defence. We gave up eight goals.” On what Hungary took from the match: “We had an opportunity to work on both our offence and defence. We made too many mistakes on defence and we will try to fix that for tomorrow.”

Ranko Perovic (MNE) — Head Coach
“We weren’t so good in defence. We gave away three easy goals. We hope to play much better than today. I really believe we could have won today. I hope we will do better than today and win our final game.”

Mladan Janovic (MNE) — Two goals
“For us we came to this tournament without four players and our aim was the semifinals and now for the moment we will play Australia for third place. Hungary and Serbia arrived here with their best teams and will be in the final, which is correct.” On missing a key penalty attempt when 9-7 down: “It is difficult when you take two or three penalties in a row. I have to think where to shoot. The goalie can’t lose. I can change the angle.”

Match 20: 18:30, 1-4 Semifinal, AUSTRALIA 5 SERBIA 12
Quarters: 1-2, 2-5, 0-2, 2-3
Referees: Balasz Fekete (HUN), Sergio Borrell (ESP).

Extra Man: AUS:  ¼. SRB: 6/9.
Pens: AUS: 0/1. SRB: 1/1.

AUSTRALIA: James Clark, Richie Campbell, George Ford, John Cotterill (1), Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist, Aidan Roach (1), Aaron Younger (2), Lachlan Edwards (1), Tyler Martin, Mitch Emery, William Miller, Edward Slade. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.
SERBIA: Gojko Pijetlovic, Dusan Mandic (2), Zivko Gocic (1), Sava Randelovic, Milos Cuk (1), Dusko Pijetlovic (2), Slobodan Nikic (1), Dusan Markovic, Nikola Raden, Filip Filipovic (5), Andrija Prlainovic, Stefan Mitrovic, Branislav Mitrovic. Head Coach: Dejan Savic.

The Filip Filipovic show was like a curtain-raiser on an excellent match. The star left-hander was in exceptional form, setting up Serbia for what was widely regarded as the natural progression to the gold-medal final and a rematch with Hungary. Filipovic set the pool alight with four goals (five for the match) in the first 11 minutes of the match as Serbia lifted from 1-1 to 6-1. Sneaking in with goals was Serbian captain Zivko Gocic on a cross past to the far post and Slobodan Nikic with a cheeky pop shot, where he bounced the ball to himself on the water and slapped the ball around into goal. Aidan Roach scored a five-metre goal at 4:09 and Aaron Younger sent one over the shoulder of Branislav Mitrovic from the top for 6-3 and the Aussie Sharks were back in the game. Serbia went to a timeout at 29 seconds and Dusan Mandic netted his 10th goal of the week from outside. The third period was a Dusko Pijetlovic benefit with the power centre forward, easily the best here, scored twice. The first was when he faded and turned to the left post and sent the ball over James Clark’s head and the second pure magic on a cross past to the far post when he did not take control of the ball but still shoveled it into goal. At 9-3 behind, Australia was trying hard but was no match for the Serbians. Younger opened the final-quarter scoring on extra, Filipovic scored his fifth from his usual position on extra;  Milos Cuk nailed extra; John Cotterill had his penalty attempt swatted down by Mitrovic, but Cotterill made amends with a spectacular drag down of a high ball into goal for 11-5. Mandic turned his player and scored from the left-hand-catch position at 3:30 and Serbia could ease up and celebrate.

AUS vs SRB - credit: Russell McKinnon


Dejan Savic (SRB) — Head Coach

“This was a very tough match. The referees left it a little harder today, not just for our match, but also the Hungary-Montenegro game. We played very well today, especially in defence. This was the key for our win. Tomorrow is the big final between two teams who deserve to be in the decisive match.”

Filip Filipovic (SRB) — Five Goals
“We prepared for the game. As I said last night we improved on our defence, which gave us the launch to our attack. We have a historical tradition against Hungary. This is just one part of the preparation. We are training a lot in the mornings. We will hope we bring our best game to tomorrow’s final and a final is a final. We are fighting for a World League we want to win. Hungarian games are always very tough.”

Elvis Fatovic (CRO) — Australia Head Coach
“It’s not nice when you lose, but I am not so unhappy with our presentation because for almost two quarters we played really good defence. Then we just had a small mistake, but against a team like Serbia that’s enough to punish us. They are very strong physically and they didn’t give us many chances in attack.”

John Cotterill (AUS) — Longest-serving Aussie Shark
“We are quite proud of ourselves. We came out firing in the first quarter. Overall there was a lack of teamwork. Yesterday we really came together, but today we didn’t play our complete game. We wanted to back it up, but it’s tough in a 24-hour time period. Obviously we came into the tournament wanting to win it, but we were hoping for the semis, so we can be quite proud of ourselves.”