Serbia regains FINA Junior Men’s World Championship

Almaty, September 12.— Serbia beat reigning champion Italy 13-12 for the gold medal at the FINA Junior Men’s World Water Polo Championships. Serbia won the bronze medal two years ago and previously won the crown as Serbia two editions ago in Volos in 2011. As Serbia & Montenegro it won in 2003 and 2005. As Yugoslavia it won in Narbonne, France in 1989.
Italy won in Szombathely, Hungary two years ago and had previously won in 1999 and 1993. In the bronze-medal encounter, Hungary proved the better penalty-shooting team heading off Greece in sudden death 13-12. Hungary won the championship in 2007 and 1995 and Greece was a previous winner, having won in Istanbul, Turkey in 2001. In the classification for fifth, Spain beat Montenegro 14-9 and Croatia took seventh with a 14-10 margin over Australia.

Final placings:

1. Serbia
2. Italy
3. Hungary
4. Greece
5. Spain
6. Montenegro
7. Croatia
8. Australia
9. Netherlands
10. Mexico
11. Kazakhstan
12. Egypt
13. Japan
14. Canada
15. China
16. Uzbekistan
17. Iran
18. South Africa

World Men's Junior Championships
Almaty (KAZ)

Saturday 12-09:

Classification 1-2 (Gold Medal)

Match 72: 15:10, SERBIA 13 ITALY 12

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

Referees: Jaume Teixido (ESP), Mikhail Dykman (CAN).

Extra Man: SRB: 8/15. ITA: 4/12

Pens: SRB: 1/1. ITA: 2/2.

SERBIA: Lazar Dobozanov, Mateja Arsanovic (1), Radomir Drasovic, Mihajlo Repanovic, Gavril Subotic (5), Ivan Gvozdanovic (2), Drasko Gogov (5), Nebojsa Toholj, Marko Manojlovic, Filip Radojevic, Milan Vitorovic. Head Coach: Vladimir Vujasinovic.

ITALY: Fabio Viola, Umberto Esposito (1), Edoardo di Somma (1), Antonio Maccioni, Gianluigi Foglio, Roberto Ravina (4), Vincenze Dolce (4), Eduardo Campopiano, Jacopo Alesiani, Alessandro Velotto (2), Gianmarco Nicosia. Head Coach: Ferdinando Pesci.

Match Report:

Of all the one-sided matches or those with big margins, this was not one of them. This was the two best teams in the world battling out for gold in the right spirit. Some emotions boiled over, but in the end only two players from each team did not make the end. Italian head coach Ferdinando Pesci did not make the end, receiving a red card at 1:35 in the third period. Serbia started the way it meant to finish, with plenty of goals and plenty of golds. With the legendary Vladimir Vujasinovic calling the shots for Serbia, his team knew what it had to do. It was strange to see a full complement on the benches and only two players had two major fouls by halftime. It was all about the game and the way it was played. Different styles, but excellent players nonetheless. Serbia led 2-0 and then  4-1 at the first break. It looked like it was going to be a walkover. However, Italy, which has played so well all week and thoroughly deserved to be in the showcase match, bided its time. Serbia went 5-2, 6-3 and 7-4 ahead before Italy clawed one back 22 seconds from halftime. Serbia’s dominance was a little shaky with Italy coming back as needed, through some grafting play and only two players on each side had two major fouls each. Italy converted a penalty goal through Vincenzo Dolce, one of the star acts of the week, right after the restart. Several minutes later that shaky earth nearly opened up as Roberto Ravina scored consecutive goals on three consecutive Italy attacks for 8-8. Then, what everyone had been waiting for, Italy took control Alessandro Velotto. Serbia responded and Italy went 10-9 ahead. Serbia drew level at 10 and 11 and with six seconds left Gavril Subotic, the best player in Almaty, gave Serbia the edge. At 5:31 in the final quarter, Umberto Esposito slapped in a rebound on the left side of the goal for 12-12. Velotto, caught up in the emotion, disagreed with a referee decision against him and was red-carded at 6:09. At 4:00, the killer blow struck, hammered home by Drasko Gogov from eight metres — his fifth and finest goal. Italy called a timeout to no effect and in the end it was left to Esposito to take the final shot, on extra, but sadly for he and Italy, the best goalkeeper of the tournament, Lazar Dobozanov, blocked the shot with his left hand. Serbia had taken the gold.

Classification 3-4

Match 71: 13:50, GREECE 12 HUNGARY 13 in sudden death penalty shootout (FT: 9-9. Pens: 3-3. SD: 0-1).

Quarters: 3-1, 1-2, 1-3, 4-3.  Pens: 3-4.

Referees: Andrej Franulovic (CRO), Haldun Toygarli (TUR).

Extra Man: GRE: 5/8. HUN: 4/10

Pens:  GRE: 1/1.

GREECE: Emmanouil Zerdevas, Nikolaos Kopeliadis (5), Michail Sartzetakis, Angelos Foskolos (2), Stylianos Argyropoulos-Kanakkis (1), Dmitrios Nicolaidis, Panteleimon Kalogerakos, Grigorios Kapetanakis, Alexandros Athymaritis, Rafail Forotzidis. Assistant Coach: Nikolaos Karamanis.

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

Match Report:

When Soma Vogel got the call, he responded in buckets. From sitting on the bench and watching the penalty shootout unfold after the match went from 9-6 to 9-9, he excitedly took the plunge. He shuffled into position as Greece had converted three and Hungary only one. He then became the toast of the nation, blocking the next two shots as Hungary scored twice and missed one. The match had finished he rotation at three apiece and 12-12. It went to sudden death and the brilliant Vogel smacked down a third penalty, leaving it to Zalanki to convert and win the bronze medal, which he did. Jubilant scenes erupted and much of the joy was focused on Vogel. It had been a tight match with Greece controlling the first half. Greece head coach Theodoros Chatzitheodorou, suspended Christos Papoukas and the injured Alexandros Athymaritis were in the stands. With players at a premium, it was important for Greece not to attract too many fouls. Greece’s 4-3 dominance at halftime was always under threat by Hungary and it was not until 5:59 in the third that Krisztian Manhercz slipped one past the keeper. At 3:46, a defensive error gave Tamas Sedlmayer space in front of goal to accept a pass and score for a 5-4 advantage. At 1:13, Zoltan Pohl fired in one from the top for 6-4. On the next attack Greece converted extra through Panteleimon Kalogerakos. Greece opened the scoring in the fourth period for 6-6 via Stylianos Argyropoulos-Kanakkis. Left-hander Gergo Zalanki converted counter to give Hungary the lead again. Sedlmayer converted extra-man attack from top left and once again Hungary was two ahead (8-6). Manhercz sent in one on extra at 4:18 just after the Greek assistant coach gained a yellow card for not controlling his bench. At 9-6, Hungary was in the ascendancy. Shadows started falling over the pool after a hot, sunny day, with rain forecast for tomorrow, and Greece’s chances were dimming as well. Two big shots by Greece’s Grigorios Kapetanakis and Kalogerakos were blocked. On the next attack, Angelos Foskolos managed to cross the line and Hungary went to a timeout with just over a minute remaining. Greece gained an extra-man goal through Kopeliadis and it was game on with one goal separating the teams. Hungary lost the ball at 13s because it was wasting time and Kovacs was excluded, but he did not leave the pool, so Greece was awarded a 5m penalty at .03s. Kopeliadis converted the penalty goal and the match, at 9-9, went to a shootout.

Photo: Russel McKinnon.

Classification 5-6

Match 70: 12:30, SPAIN 14 MONTENEGRO 9

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

Referees: Nick Hodgers (AUS), Viktor Salnichenko (KAZ).

Extra Man: ESP: ¾. MNE: 3/8.

Pens: Nil

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

MONTENEGRO: Arsenije Stanovic, Ugjesa Vukasovic, Dorde Bulatovic (1), Dusan Matkovic (1), Matija Brguljan (2), Nicolas Savejic, Danilo Adzic, Stefan Porobic (1), Filip Gardasevic (4), Janko Krivokapic, Milija Mandic. Head Coach: Zoran Maslovar.

Match report:
Spain, cajoled into action by head coach Quim Colet, started on the right foot and kept putting the accelerator down to deny Montenegro any chance of fifth place. Spain is a balanced team and has a strong centre forward in Roger Tahull, who has performed all week, gaining valuable exclusions and goals when needed. Spain was all composure today and Montenegro looked a little in awe, despite hard work from the excellent outside man Matija Brguljan and sharpshooter Nicolas Savejic, who were both covered well today. It was left to Filip Gardasevic to claim four goals. For Spain, Alejandro Bustos, who likes the left side of the pool, fired in five goals and Alvaro Granados netted four. Spain finished six two years ago while Montenegro’s last visit to this level was 2011 when it claimed seventh.

Classification 7-8

Match 69: 11:10, CROATIA 14 AUSTRALIA 10

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

Referees: Luca Bianco (ITA), Michail Skalochoritis (GRE).

Extra Man: CRO: 3/14. AUS: 7/15.

Pens: CRO: 2/3.

CROATIA: Marin Sparada, Loren Fatovic (1), Rino Buric (4), Andro Gagulic, Antun Goreta (3), Andrija Basic (2), Luka Lozina (2), Antonio Buha, Ivan Zovic, Ivan Zivkovic (2), Marin Jukic. Head Coach:.

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

Match Report:
Croatia, expected to be in the medal rounds earlier in the tournament had to settle for seventh place. It was not pretty for the Croatians who have been disrupted by players being suspended and a coach binned for the two last matches. Players who should have starred in Almaty, only showed flashes of brilliance. Rino Buric scored four goals in the second quarter and Antun Goreta, red-carded earlier in the tournament, scored three early goals, but that was all. Australia must take credit for making it so hard for Croatia, especially on the man-up count. Croatia could only convert three chances, while the Aussies produced seven. Croatia also had three penalty chances, converting two. Nicholas Brooks, one of the true stars in the Australian team, hammered in five goals with three in the third period. Others had good tournaments as well and the team improved all week. Australia’s final position was unchanged from 2013 and Croatia slipped five placings from that silver-medal performance.

Text, stats by: Russel McKinnon.

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