© Gertjan Kooij

Greece edges Australia on penalties - Kazan day 10

China has avoided a last-place finish at the 2015 World Championships by knocking off Argentina 16-9 in the classification match for 15th place on Tuesday morning. Thanks to a strong start and 5-0 lead the Chinese men could hold on to the lead, despite a little comeback by Argentina, carried by shooter German Yañez who scored 5 goals, as the deficit proved too much to overcome for debutants who now finish last. It wasn't until late in the first quarter after China had already scored 5 times before Argentina got on the board, by no other than German Yañez. The Spanish club Mediterrani player not only opened the score for his team but also ignited a phase in the game where goals were flying around and Argentina started to find its rhythm. The defence however was the achilles heel for the Argentines as they could not stop China from scoring either. That marked the decision in the game. The advantage for the Chinese could be consolidated throughout the second and third period which proved enough to seal the victory and 15th place finish.

Japan secured 13th place as they defeated home team Russia 9-13 in the second match on display in the Water Polo Arena in Kazan on Tuesday. The quick Japanese players looked ready to give it a final shot and walked away in the second period where several sharp counter attacks punished Russia turnovers on offence. That continued in the third period where Japan even extended its advantage to 4 goals. Meanwhile Russia, despite being cheered on by plenty of crowd, kept being bothered by their turnovers as well as the active Japanese defence that made up for the disadvantage the Japanese team has agains the strong Russians. It led to an almost status quo in the final period where both teams knew the outcome of the match was determined. Although Japan kept swimming, the difference in the score remained the same as 4 goals were exchanged and Japan finished 13th, being back at the world championships since finishing 11th in Shanghai during the 2011 worlds.

The first of two semifinals for the 9th-12th place classification was up next as Canada used a dominant 5-0 run in the second period to turn around a 1-2 quarter-time deficit into a 9-7 win. As the game got more physical in the second half and especially final period, Kazakhstan came closer thanks to two straight goals by lefthander Sergey Gubarev but with two minutes remaining in the match, Canada managed to stop the Kazakhstan goal scoring there, so that the win could be ensured. It means Canada will play Brazil for 9th place on Thursday, while Kazakhstan meets South Africa to determine who finishes 11th.

Brazil ran away from South Africa in the second half of their meeting on Tuesday to post a 16-5 victory and advance to the 9th place classification match on Thursday. A scoring festival-like 10-goal opening quarter kicked off the game straight into second gear before a more quiet second period restored the balance. Brazil could set up their defence and saw South Africa having trouble finishing their shots. Meanwhile on the other side, especially in the second half, the Brazilians could counter their way to a large victory. Centre forward Josip Vrlic led the scoring netting 5 shots while captain Felipe Perrone added 4. Now familiar foe Canada is up next in the battle for 9th place.


Croatia was the first team to make it to the semifinals. One of the tournament favourites, the Croatian side dominated Montenegro in the first half en route to a convincing 10-4 victory. The Montenegrins, having a tough tournament with three major players absent, tried for a hard-nose approach but did not succeed. Croatia, despite having Andelo Setka receiving a blow from Predrag Jokic as part of a scuffle between the two and being treated poolside, did not got into the battle with their opponents and kept their composure. The small bench of Montenegro only went smaller after losing Vjekoslav Paskovic and late in the first half a frustrated red-carded Drasko Brguljan so that in the second half the leading side did not had to the limit in order to secure their spot in the semifinals. Petar Muslim finished top scorer showing his range of outside shooting for a team-hight three goals. Montenegro centre forward Filip Klikovac had a particularly successful match for his team netting 3 as well. Now Croatia awaits either Australia or Greece in the semifinals on Thursday.

Andelo Setka (CRO) — Injured eye just before halftime.
“I’m OK now. This is not water polo (pointing to his injured left eye). I received a fist like a boxer.” On scoring a goal soon after returning to the pool: “Maybe there was more power because of it (the injury). This was a tough game. We were better. We showed that in the pool. Not in one moment were we equal.”

Ranko Perovic (MNE) — Head Coach
“I expected a tougher game. They went to-three goals ahead in the beginning and we made too many mistakes on extra man. Croatia is the better team at the moment than Montenegro.”

Milos Scepanovic (MNE) - Goalkeeper
''We tried to go tough at Croatia's very difficult offence by hard press, but had problems with early exclusions and losing some players to three major fouls. But I have to say, in the end Croatia deserved this victory.'' On the question of feeling this tournament as an disappointment: ''Of course. We always have the desire to play for the medals and that will not happen here. The final conclusion is that here we could not manage to reach the level we wanted with this team, knowing we miss three important players. Now we have to think about how to move forward.''

Greece will be Croatia's opponent in the semifinal earning a berth for the first time since their 2005 Montreal bronze medal. A tense back-and-forth game got to penalties before just one save by standout goalie Konstantinos Flegkas proved enough to seal the victory. A bitter defeat for Australia who on two ocassions looked well underway to finishing on top in what would have been their first semifinals apearance at world championships since Perth 1998. Especially in the final period where two straight goals, by Aiden Roach and excelling Aaron Younger got the Aussie Sharks leading 5-6 with just under 2 minutes remaining. The Greek however did not lost their composure, and with over a minute remaining, tied through a nice shot by Konstantinos Genidounias. As defensive the game was in the first half, as spectacular was the finish with Nathan Power again making a strong case fot the Aussies to take it. He tipped in a nice assist by Aiden Roach with just 0.38 on the clock for the 6-7 lead. But Greece's ultimate answer came. Sharks captain Rhys Howden was excluded with 14 seconds remaining and the following extra man was played out beautifully until top shooter Ioannis Fountoulis shot it home from the left wing. Time left? Just 4 seconds. Too little for Australia's Younger to pull off a surprise shot as the thriller went onto a shootout. Here Greek goalie Flegkas came up huge straight away denying Younger his attempt and as all following attempts of the series were scored, it was Greece's Alexandros Gounas who kept his cool and shot Greece to the semifinals of a world championship, after a fairly long time not having been able to make it that far.

Konstantinos Genidounias (GRE) — Two goals
On scoring one before this match and two in the quarterfinal: “Other guys are important. Some who are usually the protagonists aren’t and others have to step up. I got the passes from my team-mates and did what I had to do. There are a million emotions — want to win, sitting on the bench is 10 times harder than being in the game. The game is over, now we move on to the next game.”

Elvis Fatovic (CRO) — Head Coach
“Too often this happens to teams. I think it is just part of the experience to finish off games. We had an amazing tournament, good defence and good attack actually. But we must learn how to close the game.”

Richard Campbell (AUS)
“A shootout makes it worse. We shouldn’t let in goals near the end. Come to that it’s more gut-wrenching. We stuck to our game plan. We’ve been in situations like that several times before. We’re used to that and we kept our cool. We just couldn’t get it over the line. The best part tonight was commitment, sticking to the game plan and our defence was solid.”

Christos Afroudakis (GRE) - Captain
''It was a game of many emotions, because the score changed several times. I felt like we had the control of the game but then led it slip and onfortunately again at the end. Luckily we stayed patience in the final attack. In the penalty shootout we had the bit of luck necessary but also an excellent goalkeeper. Today also I was more satisfied with our defence opposed to our group stage where we received too many goals. Good defence will be they for a good result. It gives you power and confidence, also as a team.''

The next quarterfinal produced a stunner as Italy upset defending champion Hungary 7-8 thanks to a strong comeback in the second half after what appeared to be a relatively controlled first half by the favourite Magyars. The defensive organisation had to work top-level to kept the Italians from scoring but held the offensive production of the Alessandro Campagna coached side under control. The game went on quite levelled and for the Hungarians even well as they got up 5-3 in the third period. However there the game looked to be shifting. Standouts Pietro Figlioli and Stefano Luongo scored two straight goals for Italy to tie 5-5 at the end of the third and they were also the first to strike in the final period. Another rising star, Francesco di Fulvio netted another beautiful shot to get his team up 5-6 kicking off a back-and-forth tense final phase of the game. In reply it was centre forward Balazs Harai who finished off a man-up but Nicholas Presciutti did the same for Italy less than a minute later. The big blow came from Stefano Luongo on another one of his easy-looking but deadly sharp shots. He scored 'on extra' with 3.40 remaining. That blow didn't looked to be the final one as Norbert Hosnyansky made his mark on the game in the following posession scoring, also from man-up, to get Hungary back with in one: 7-8. The remaining 3 minutes were extreme. The usual calm Hungarians on offence were less effective than they'd used to be and saw time ticking away. But as Italy couldn't score either, the game stayed close and tense. The defending champions got a nice opportunity after Figlioli received his 3rd major foul but Martin Szivos' shot was saved. It didn't stop there. The Magyars even got another opportunity but Balazs Harai converted a turnover with 14 seconds remaining and that was enough time for the Italians to play out the clock and start celebrating a huge victory and semifinal berth that probably wasn't expected at all times during this tournament. They survived a game that saw just 1 of the 13 goals not being scored from extra man and upset the defending champions.

Pietro Figlioli (ITA)
“It’s not often any team beats Hungary. To us as water polo heads Hungary is steeped in history. It’s the second time this summer we have beaten them, at the Vodafone Cup (in Hungary) and here. It’s always a satisfying moment. Hungary has an aura, but it isn’t indestructible. Titles don’t matter anything, as I know from trying to be a repeating champion, everyone wants to kill you. The future was decided here today. We had more control up front, higher percentage and the more attacks we put up the harder it was for them to defend.” Figlioli gave his first post-match interview in Italian, the second in Spanish and the third in English.

Alex Giorgetti (ITA)
“We knew we were going to win. We saw Hungary in training yesterday and they had fear. We felt we were world champion and them not. Hungary was good in the first but then we came up as we had heart. We had good defence and excellent extra-man (attack).”

Balazs Erdelyi (HUN)
''The first three quarters were good for us. We got up 5-3. By the end of the third period Italy tied the game and in the final stages they scored two goals and we just one so they could win. That was the key. There defensive-wise we didn't do so well and on offence missed many opportunities, such as me hitting the bar. And those small differences matter in the end.''

Serbia will meet Italy in the semifinals. The tournament favourites walked away from USA in the second half overcoming a slow start and 0-2 deficit to win 12-7. A 4-0 run in the opening period was needed to undo a sharp and determined start by USA who came out firing quickly scoring the game's first two goals and before everyone knew, already led 0-2. The Serbs however did not panicked, restored organisation and started scoring in the second half of the first quarter. It led to a 4-0 run and 4-2 lead at quarter time. In the second session however the USA team got back into it. But grabbing the lead in the score proved out of reach. That didn't appeared to be in the remainder of the first half as the Americans kept causing trouble to the Serbian defence, where starting goalkeeper Gojko Pijetlovic eventually was substitured for Branislav Mitrovic early in the third quarter. The Serbs on offence kept pouring in goals but were forced to as USA did the same on the other side. After Luca Cupido shot one home on man-up for the 7-6 score and the subsequent goalkeeper change by Serbia head coach Dejan Savic, things gradually started to change. Two minutes later it was Dusko Pijetlovic who once more scored from the post on extra man and this time, saw the 2-goal lead being extended to 3 in the final minute of the third quarter as captain Zivko Gocic connected for the 9-6 score. Team USA kept trying in the final period and through one of the highlight-goals of the tournament, a swing-shot nearside from the right side which went in, but couldn't ignite a USA comeback as Pijetlovic was on the right place again on man-up tipping in the important 10-7 score with over 4 minutes remaining. The exclamation point was delivered by Dusan Mandic. He intercepted a Tony Azevedo pass, swam a full-length counterattack by himself and finished it off furociously for the 11-7 lead with 2.45 to go. In the remainder the USA resistance was not the same anymore. Several turnovers, and even more exclusions, marked the game's final phase in which Serbia could consolidate before Slobodan Nikic decided the final score with a nice drive, catch and shot from centre forward position with just 4 seconds on the clock. Serbia made sure they weren't to be eliminated in the quartefinals which happened in the previous world championships edition in Barcelona when they lost to Montenegro but instead advance to the semifinals as tournament favourites now meeting emerging tournament giant Italy on Thursday.

Dusan Mandic (SRB) - Two Goals
''In the beginning we were a bit confused in defence. I think this a result of our 3-day break as group winner. We lacked some rhythm. USA got up 2-0 but after a few minutes we gathered and fixed the problems on defence. Compared to Barcelona 2013 we made one step forward. Now Italy in the semifinals. I expect a though game, a lot of swimming and great duels. Italy is a great opponent but I believe in every one of my team-mates.''

Dejan Udovicic (SRB) - USA Head Coach

“I’m proud of my guys. It’s not easy to play Serbia. You have to show enormous amounts of experience for that level of the game. We are totally not experienced enough for the big game. There were so many missed opportunities to level the game, we missed and were punished very quickly. This competition, right now, Serbia is in front of everyone. It was unfortunate that we had to cross over with them.”

Alex Bowen (USA)
“Disappointed. We worked hard all summer and we came up short. It really sucks. We made a lot of mistakes. We didn’t capitalise on their mistakes, but they capitalised on ours.”

2015 FINA World Championships
Kazan (RUS)

Quarterfinal round

Tuesday, 4 August (men)

China (L M25) vs. Argentina (L M26) 16-9 (6-2, 3-4, 4-2, 3-1) - M31 (15th/16th place classification)
China scorers: Tao Dong 4, Li Li 2, Chufeng Zhang 2, Nianxiang Liang 2, Feihu Tan, Zhangxin Hu, Wenhui Lu, Lun Li, Zekai Xie, Jinghao Chen.

Argentina scorers: German Yañez 5, Ramiro Veich 2, Ivan Carabantes 2.

Russia (W M25) vs. Japan (W M26) 9-13 (4-3, 1-3, 2-5, 2-2) - M32 (13th/14th place classification)
Russia scorers: Igor Bychkov 3, Alexey Bugaychuk 2, Konstantin Stepanyuk 2, Artem Ashaev, Ivan Nagaev.

Japan scorers: Keigo Okawa 3, Atsushi Arai 2, Atsuto Iida 2, Yusuke Shimizu 2, Koji Takei 2, Seiya Adachi, Shota Hazui.

Canada (L M27) vs. Kazakhstan (L M29) 9-7 (1-2, 5-0, 2-3, 1-2) - M33
Canada scorers: John Conway 4, Jarrod McElroy 2, Oliver Vikalo, Nicolas Constantin-Bicari, Kevin Graham.

Kazakhstan scorers: Alexandr Axenov 3, Sergey Gubarev 2, Roman Pilipenko, Branko Pekovich.

Brazil (L M28) vs. South Africa (L M30) 16-5 (7-3, 2-2, 3-0, 4-0) - M34
Brazil scorers: Josip Vrlic 5, Felipe Perrone 4, Adria Delgado 2, Jonas Crivella, Guilherme Gomes, Bernardo Gomes, Bernardo Rocha, Gustavo Guimaraes.

South Africa scorers: Etienne le Roux, Devon Card, Dayne Jagga, Pierre le Roux, Nicholas Molyneux.

Croatia (1A) vs. Montenegro (W M29) 10-4 (1-0, 3-0, 3-3, 3-1) - M35
Croatia scorers: Petar Muslim 3, Luka Bukic 2, Antonio Petkovic, Sandro Sukno, Fran Paskvalin, Andelo Setka, Paulo Obradovic.

Montenegro scorers: Filip Klikovac 3, Darko Brguljan.

Greece (1B) vs. Australia (W M30) 12-11 (1-0, 1-3, 3-1, 2-3; penalties: 5-4) - M36
Greece scorers: Konstantinos Genidounias 2, Ioannis Fountoulis 2, Christos Afroudakis, Christodoulos Kolomvos, Alexandros Gounas.

Australia scorers: Aaron Younger 3, Aiden Roach 2, Nathan Power, Joel Swift.

Hungary (1C) vs. Italy (W M27) 7-8 (2-2, 2-1, 1-2, 2-3) - M37
Hungary scorers: Daniel Varga 3, Balazs Erdelyi, Norbert Hosnyanszky, Denes Varga, Balazs Harai.

Italy scorers: Francesco di Fulvio 2, Stefano Luongo 2, Pietro Figlioli, Alex Giorgetti, Nicholas Presciutti, Fabio Baraldi.

Serbia (1D) vs. USA (W M28) 12-7 (4-2, 3-3, 2-1, 3-1) - M38
Serbia scorers: Dusko Pijetlovic 4, Dusan Mandic 2, Slobodan Nikic 2, Zivko Gocic, Milan Aleksic, Filip Filipovic, Andrija Prlainovic.

USA scorers: Bret Bonanni 2, Luca Cupido, Josh Samuels, Tony Azevedo, Alex Bowen, Jesse Smith.

Semifinal round

Wednesday, 5 August (women)

10.50: Canada (L W33) vs. Kazakhstan (L W34) - W39 (11th/12th place classification)
12.10: Hungary (W W33) vs. Brazil (W W34) - W40 (9th/10th place classification)

15.30: Spain (L W35) vs. China (L W36) - W41
17.00: Greece (L W37) vs. Russia (L W38) - W42
20.15: USA (W W35) vs. Australia (W W36) - W43
21.45: Italy (W W37) vs. Netherlands (W W38) - W44

Semifinal round

Thursday, 6 August (men)

10.50: Kazakhstan (L M33) vs. South Africa (L M34) - M39 (11th/12th place classification)
12.10: Canada (W M33) vs. Brazil (W M34) - M40 (9th/10th place classification)

15.30: Montenegro (L M35) vs. Australia (L M36) - M41
17.00: Hungary (L M37) vs. USA (L M38) - M42
20.15: Croatia (W M35) vs. Greece (W M36) - M43
21.45: Italy (W M37) vs. Serbia (W M38) - M44

N.b.: time mentioned is local time.

 Share this