LONG BEACH, Calif., JUne 25. THE second day of the 2004 FINA Women's Water Polo World League Super Final brought with it some fine matchups as reported by FINA Press Commission members Russell McKinnon & Gregory Eggert. The premiere game of the day was the match up between the USA and RUSSIA.
The USA team included seven members of the silver medal team from the 2000 Olympic Games. At the Sydney Olympics the USA defeated the team from RUSSIA by a 7 to 5 tally and followed with wins over RUSSIA at the 2001 World Championships (2-1) and the 2003 World Championships (11 to 7). But that dominance ended in the home pool of the AMERICANS tonight as the USA team was swamped by a 10-5 score.
The USA faces GREECE next in a must-win situation for advancement into the semifinal round. The USA team will enjoy a southern Californian home team advantage as all but one of their players hails from this state. The team from RUSSIA is secure in their position at the top of the Group A team standings and expects to have little challenge from winless KAZAKHSTAN.
One of the brightest highlights of the day was AUSTRALIA vs. ITALY. These two teams will be head to head again in their first games during the 2004 Olympic Games. As expected this match was a tough physical battle. Today, ITALY, the European Champion, was an 11-8 victor over the 2000 Olympic champions. Although the ITALIANS did not qualify for the 2000 Olympic Games, they have been flawless against AUSTRALIA since 2000, winning 4-1 at the 2001 World Championships, and by a single point at the 2002 World Cup.
ITALY is ranked #1 in the Group A team standings with 6 points as they prepare to face CANADA on Friday. Even a loss to CANADA and a victory by HUNGARY over AUSTRALIA on Friday means that the ITALIAN team will end the pool play no worse than tied for the lead in the Group B standings. In today's other Group B pool play, HUNGARY defeated CANADA as both teams evened their won-loss record and 1-1. Both of those teams will be battling for the second spot in the Group B standings and to get there they must win on Friday. CANADA's fortunes depend on their victory over ITALY and they need to see HUNGARY lose to AUSTRALIA. A win by HUNGARY will advance them into the semifinals.
Speaking of the Athens Olympic Games, GREEK coach Kiriakos IOSIFIDIS is well aware of his responsibility to deliver great water polo action to his countrymen in August. "There is a lot of pressure on us, but we have a lot of positive feelings from the Greek people when we play at home." A confident IOSIFIDIS pleased with today's 11-2 lashing of KAZAHKSTAN offer this perspective: "Like every team, our main goal is the Olympic games. We will try our best.” The team from GREECE will face the USA on Friday to determine which team will advance to the semifinal round.
Friday promises to be another exciting day of water polo in Long Beach, and the start of the weekend is expected to draw crowds in excess of 5000 spectators. Tonight's attendance was 2187.
6 points – RUSSIA: 2-0 (defeated Greece, 11-8, defeated USA, 10-5)
4 points – USA: 1-1 (defeated Kazakhstan, 10-4; lost to RUSSIA, 5-10)
4 points – GREECE: 1-1 (lost to Russia, 8-11, defeated KAZAKHSTAN, 11-2)
2 points – KAZAKHSTAN: 0-2 (lost to USA, 4-10, lost to GREECE, 2-11)
6 points – ITALY: 2-0 (defeated Hungary, 6-4, defeated AUSTRALIA, 11-8)
4 points – HUNGARY: 1-1 (lost to Italy 4-6, beat CANADA, 12-7)
3 points – CANADA: 1-1 (beat Australia, 12-11, lost to HUNGARY, 7-12)
2 points – AUSTRALIA: 0-2 (lost to Canada, 11-12, lost to ITALY, 8-11)
Points are awarded as follows:
3 points for a regulation time victory, 2 points for an overtime victory, 1 point for a loss.
SCHEDULE OF GAMES ON DAY THREE: Friday, June 25, 2004
4:00 p.m. – Game Nine
RUSSIA vs. KAZAKHSTAN
5:30 p.m. – Game Six
ITALY vs. CANADA
7:00 p.m. – Game Seven
AUSTRALIA vs. HUNGARY
8:30 p.m. – Game Eight
USA vs. GREECE
ATTENDANCE FOR DAY TWO: 2187