USA, Australia Among Day 1 Winners in Men’s Water Polo Tourney at 2015 FINA World Championships

Photo Courtesy: FINA/Kazan2015

Coverage of the 2015 FINA World Championships is sponsored by Wylas Timing. Visit our coverage page for more.

Coverage of the 2015 FINA World Championships is sponsored by Wylas Timing. Visit our landing page for more.

The Aussies’ patience paid off

Game 8, Group D: Japan vs. Australia 4-10 (0-2, 2-2, 1-3, 1-3)
Referees: Massimiliano Caputi (ITA), Hatem Gaber (EGY)

JAPAN: Katsuyuki Tanamura, Seiya Adachi 1, Atsushi Arai, Mitsuaki Shiga 1, Akira Yanase, Atsuto Iida, Yusuke Shimizu, Yuki Kadono, Koji Takei 1, Kenya Yasuda, Keigo Okawa 1, Shota Hazui, Tomoyoshi Fukushima. Head coach: Yoji Omoto

AUSTRALIA: James Stanton-French, Richard Campbell 3, George Ford, John Cotterill 1, Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist 1, Aiden Roach, Aaron Younger 2, Joel Swift 1, Emery Mitchell, Rhys Howden 2, Tyler Martin, Joel Dennerley. Head coach: Elvis Fatovic

Japan: 4 for 13
Australia: 5 for 8

Japan: none
Australia: 1 for 1

This game was about patience: the Aussies were clearly the better side, however, they have to wait for their moments to widen the gap as the Japanese fought bravely, their fast counters were threatening and the Aussies knew well that any laziness, let alone mistake would open the door for their rivals’ comeback.

But Elvis Fatovic is a good teacher, the Croatian boss taught them discipline and that brought its fruits again. In the middle of the second they were 1-4 up but deep in the third it was 3-5 only, however, they didn’t rush and Richard Campbell’s and Rhys Howden’s action goals came just in time. Indeed, the latter was netted 7 second before the last break and this 3-7 lead seemed substantial enough for a calmer finishing period. The Japanese took some risks but struggled to beat the Australian defence, at the end they lost by 6. That’s bad news for them as they face a mountain to climb in the following two rounds against Serbia and Montenegro.

Serbia demonstrated its strength again

Game 7, Group D: Serbia vs. Montenegro 11-8 (2-1, 4-2, 3-4, 2-1)
Referees: Georgios Stavridis (GRE), Adrian Alexandrescu (ROU)

SERBIA: Gojko Pijetlovic, Dusan Mandic 2, Sava Randelovic, Milos Cuk 1, Dusko Pijetlovic, Slobodan Nikic, Milan Aleksic 2, Nikola Jaksic 1, Filip Filipovic 3, Andrija Prlainovic 1, Stefan Mitrovic 1, Branislav Mitrovic. Head coach: Dejan Savic

MONTENEGRO: Dejan Lazovic, Drasko Brguljan 2, Vjekoslav Paskovic 1, Uros Cuckovic, Darko Brguljan 2, Aleksandar Radovic, Mladan Janovic 2, Aleksa Ukropina, Aleksandar Ivovic, Nikola Murisic 1, Filip Klikovac, Predrag Jokic, Milos Scepanovic. Head coach: Ranko Perovic
Serbia: 5 for 9
Montenegro: 1 for 9

Serbia: 1 for 1
Montenegro: none

Two years ago the Serbs suffered a shocking defeat from fellow Montenegrins in the quarters, marking the end of their incredible run (Serbia reached the semis of each major international event since 1999). Last year, at the Europeans the Serbs was facing another blow but produced a miraculous come-back and went on to win the title.

This time they met on the opening day – and despite the game offered almost everything what’s usual in the battle of these two superpowers, tremendous physical fight, huge blasts, great saves, still, it lacked the real excitement as the Serbs ruled the match for most of the time. The second period was decisive when they had a 4-0 rush for 6-2 – after that the Montenegrins tried desperately, thanks to some magnificent shots they could even come as close as two goals at 7-5 and later at 9-7 towards the end of the third. But the Serbs always had the right answers, Filip Filipovic’s third goal in the fourth widened the gap again and Nikola Jaksic’s fine put-away in a 6 on 5 virtually ended the contest with six minutes from time.

Dejan Savic, head coach (SRB)
“We have a good game, we played well, managed to score a little bit more goals than usual in our game, that was the key for our win.”

Ranko Perovic, head coach (MNE)
“Serbia is a better team, no doubt. We tried to bring our best to the pool, with three newcomers in our line-up, we have a good third period but in the fourth we could see again that the Serbs are the best now.”

Cupido and Russia: not a love affair

Game 4, Group B: United States vs. Russia 7-6 (3-1, 1-2, 2-2, 1-1)
Referees: Boris Margeta (SLO), Daniel Flahive (AUS)

USA: Merill Moses, Nikola Vavic, Alex Obert, Jackson Kimbell, Alex Roelse, Luca Cupido 3, Josh Samuels, Tony Azevedo 3, Alex Bowen, Bret Bonani, Jesse Smith, John Mann 1, McQuin Baron. Head coach: Dejan Udovicic

RUSSIA: Anton Antonov, Alexey Bugaychuk 3, Artem Odintsov 1, Igor Bychkov, Albert Zinnatullin, Artem Ashaev, Vladislav Timakov, Ivan Nagaev 1, Konstantin Stepaniuk 1, Dmitrii Kholod, Sergey Lisunov, Lev Magomalev, Victor Ivanov. Head coach: Erkin Shagaev

USA: 3 for 10
Russia: 0 for 4

USA: 1 for 1
Russia: none

Russia was drawn into the death group: USA, Greece and Italy would have been enough in the good old days to talk about a tough challenge, when the men’s water polo belonged to the elite. However, in recent years the Russians couldn’t even make the World Championships, this was their first appearance since 2007. And taking a look at the opponents, perhaps the young US team seemed to be beatable, despite their recent successes, the PanAms title and the bronze in the World League Super Final (beating Hungary in the QF).

It turned out to be a close call – but the Americans were still the better side. The US had a strong start, led 3-1 and kept the match under firm control. But the home side came alive after a couple of magnificent shots from the distance – still, Luka Cupido also netted an action goal with 3 seconds before the middle break. A penalty gave the US a 5-3 lead deep into the third, but again, big blasts from Ivan Nagaev and Artem Odintsov brought the Russians to equal. However, there came Cupido again, this time his shot found the back of the net with 7 seconds to go.

The capacity crowd was desperate to see some more wonders from the Russians, but a missed 6 on 5 at 6-5 was a setback and Cupido stroke again, this time from a man-up with 3:51 to go. However, this was decisive in this afternoon. Though Konstantin Stepaniuk pulled one back at 2:26, the remaining time wasn’t enough to save the game to a draw. As the next two hurdles look even harder to clear, one might agree with a neutral player who labelled the Russians’ task as the ‘Die Hard challenge’.

Dejan Udovicic, head coach (USA)
“We controlled the game for most of the time. We could keep the high level in our defence from the Pan American Games, this is satisfying, and we have to go on like this.”

Erkin Shagaev, head coach (RUS)
“I would say we played well. The reason we lost was the lack of international experience. In recent years the American played three times more than our team, and for sure twice as much in this year. We need more of these kind of games, this is the only way to improve.”

Strong start from the title-holder

Game 6, Group C: Hungary vs. Kazakhstan 14-5 (4-0, 3-0, 5-2, 2-3)
Referees: Joseph Peila (USA), Cory Williams (NZL)

HUNGARY: Viktor Nagy, Miklos Gor-Nagy, Norbert Madaras, Balazs Erdelyi, Marton Vamos, Norbert Hosnyanszky, Daniel Angyal, Marton Szivos, Daniel Varga, Denes Varga, Krisztian Bedo, Balazs Harai, Attila Decker. Head coach: Tibor Benedek

Aleksandr Fedorov, Sergey Gubarev, Aleksandr Axenov, Roman Filipenko, Vladimir Ushakov, Alexey Shmider, Murat Shakenov, Anton Koliadenko, Rustam Ukumanov, Yevgeniy Medvedev, Ravil Manafov, Branko Pekovic, Valeriy Shmelov. Head Coach: Sergey Drozdov

Hungary: 5 for 13
Kazakhstan: 3 for 12

Hungary: none
Kazakhstan: 1 for 1

Two years ago they met in the eightfinals, Hungary won that game but after a terrible start, they trailed 2-4 after eight minutes, only to win the middle two periods 13-2. Then they corrected all mistakes and went on to clinch the title. Now they didn’t commit the same mistake – they simply swept away the Kazakhs. Their defence worked pretty well, denied three man-ups in the first eight minutes while in offense they showed some brilliance early on and led 4-0. It didn’t change after either, in the middle of the third the title-holders were 11-0 up and the growing crowd – just as on the previous day, before Russia’s game – started to cheer for a goal from the trailing team. Soon they got what they wanted, a penalty was needed to break the Kazakh silence, while the fans got loud as Rustam Ukumanov sent home the ball. The Hungarians’ concentration faded a bit towards the end, still, they offered a convincing performance as a start.

The Le Roux brothers win the game for South Africa

Game 5, Group C: South Africa vs. Brazil 10-6 (6-2, 1-2, 1-1, 2-1)
Referees: Rezvani Masoud (IRI), Sergey Naumov (RUS)

Dwayne Flatscher, Etienne Le Roux 3, Devon Card 1, Ignardus Badenhorst 1, Nicholas Hock 1, Joao De Carvalho 1, Dayne Jagga, Jared Wingate-Pearse, Dean Whyte, Pierre Le Roux 3, Nicholas Molyneux, Wesley Bolata, Julian Lewis. Head coach: Paul Martin

ARGENTINA: Diego Malnero, Ramiro Veich 2, Tomas Galimberti, Andreas Monutti, Emanuel Lopez, Tomas Bulgheroni 1, Juan Pablo Montane, Esteban Corsi, Ivan Carabantes, Julian Daszczyk, Franco Demarchi, German Yanez 3, Franco Testa. Head coach: Nahuel Alfonso


South Africa: 4 for 6
Argentina: 2 for 13

South Africa: 3 for 3
Argentina: none

Though the South African team had a brilliant start, scored the first four goals of the game and went 6-1 ahead in the first period, later they had to go through a minor scare in the fourth. The Argentinians didn’t collapse after the disastrous first period, they regrouped themselves and started to climb back. When German Yanez’s 5m shot found the back of the net at the beginning of the last period and the gap was narrowed to two goals at 8-6, it seemed an even game. However, Yanez’s next attempt was saved and Pierre La Roux scored his third from the following attack and that killed the Argentinians momentum. The last goal came from the La Roux family, this time Etienne converted a fast counter, securing South Africa’s win and possible qualification as well as ensuring a family tie since the brothers finished the match with three goals apiece.

Greece upsets Italy in action- and tension-packed fight

Game 3, Group B: Greece vs. Italy 11-10 (4-4, 2-1, 3-2, 2-3)
Referees: Francesc Buch (ESP), Gyorgy Kun (HUN)

GREECE: Konstantinos Flegkas, Emmanouil Mylonakis, Georgios Dervisis, Konstantinos Genidounias, Ioannis Fountoulis, Kyriakos Pontiekas, Christos Afroudakis, Evangelos Delakas, Konstantinos Mourikis, Christodoulos Kolomvos, Alexandros Gounas, Angelos Vlacholopoulos, Stefanos Galanpoulos. Head coach: Theodoros Vlachos

ITALY: Stefano Tempesti, Francesco di Fulvio, Alessandro Velotto, Pietro Figlioli, Alex Giorgetti, Andrea Fondelli, Massimo Giacoppo, Nicholas Presciutti, Niccolo Gitto, Stefano Luongo, Matteo Aicardi, Fabio Baraldi, Marco Del Lungo. Head coach: Alessandro Campagna


Greece: 5 for 10
Italy: 5 for 13

Greece: 1 for 2
Italy: 1 for 1

When Matteo Aicardi netted Italy’s opening goal from the first attack, few would have thought that this would be the last time the azzuris were ahead. The Greeks answered with three straight goals and from this point it became a chasing game. The Italians caught them up at 4-4, at the end of the action-packed first period but at half-time the Greeks led 6-5, despite a missed penalty.

Deep into the third they went 8-5 up as they managed to put away two extras, but a 6 on 5 and a lucky rebound helped the Settebello in climbing back to 8-7. Again, Fountoulis was on target in extra so the fourth started with Greece being 9-7 up. The next Greek man-up was missed, then the Italians hit two in 42 seconds – and it was tied again at 9-9, with five minutes to go.

Konstantinos Mourikis converted a 6 on 4, Stefano Luongo replied from an extra, then came a penalty on the next Greek attack. Christos Afroudakis didn’t make any mistake – Greece led 11-10 but three minutes still remained. It was enough for two more Italian 6 on 5s, but the first was missed, the second was blocked (8 seconds from time) and the Greeks could celebrate a bit surprising but nonetheless well-deserved win.

Wu saves a penalty and a point for China

Game 2, Group A: Brazil vs. China 9-9 (3-4, 2-1, 3-4, 1-0)
Referees: Stanko Ivanovski (MNE), Vojin Putnikovic (SRB)

Vicinius Antonelli, Jonas Crivella, Guilherme Gomes 1, Ives Gonzalez, Paulo Salemi, Bernardo Gomes, Adrian Delgado, Bernardo Rocha, Felipe Perrone 4, Gustavo Guimaraes 2, Josip Vrlic 2. Head coach: Ratko Rudic

CHINA: Wu Honghui, Tan Feihu, Hu Zhangxin, Dong Tao 3, Lu Wenhui, Li Li, Chen Zhongxian, Li Lun, Xie Zekai, Chen Jinghao 1, Zhang Chufeng 3, Liang Nianxiang 2, Liang Zhiwei. Head coach: Paolo Malara


Brazil: 3 for 6
China: 2 for 9

Brazil: 1 for 3
China: 1 for 1

It doesn’t take much time to witness the first thriller of the men’s tourney – ending in the first draw of the championships. Earlier in this year the Brazilians beat the Chinese on three occasions in the World League, twice in the Intercontinental tournament (prelims: 12-9, semis: 14-12) and once in the Super Final (prelims: 15-7).

However, this time the Chinese did a great job and were on equal terms with their rivals. Naturally, it was a huge tactical battle of the masterminds sitting at the respective benches, Croatian magician Ratko Rudic on one side and Italian maestro, Paolo Malara on the other.

Brazil led for a while in the first, but the Chinese scored three connecting goals to rush ahead 3-5 early in the second. But Brazil managed to hit back and equalised before the middle break, and could have gone even further but Gustavo Guimaraes’s penalty was stopped by Wu Honghui. The third was thrilling, again, China went in front, led 6-8 but two extra-man goals from the Brazilians in 80 seconds levelled the score again. But thanks to Dong Tao’s fine shot from a 6 on 5 China retook the lead with 18 seconds before the last break.

Brazil’s new centre, former Croatian international Josip Vrlic delivered a brilliant action goal for 9-9, then China missed a crucial men-up and another one with less than three minutes till the end. Only 74 seconds remained when Brazil got the golden chance: a penalty shot. But Wu came up with another wonder, he caught Felipe Perrone’s ball as well, saving a point for his team – while Perrone could feel terrible: he was the best of his team, netted four goals, but he missed the most important shot of the match…

Canada blown by the 2:19min Croatian whirlwind

Game 1, Group A: Croatia vs. Canada 12-7 (4-2, 6-2, 1-0, 1-3)
Referees: Radoslaw Korzyna (POL), German Moller (ARG)

CROATIA: Josip Pavic, Damir Buric 1, Antonio Petkovic 1, Luka Loncar 2, Maro Jokovic, Luka Bukic 2, Petar Muslim 2, Andro Buslje, Sandro Sukno 1, Fran Paskvalin 1, Andelo Setka, Paulo Obradovic 2, Marko Bijac. Head coach: Ivica Tucak

CANADA: Robin Randall, Con Kubada 1, Oliver Vikalo 1, Nicolas Constantin-Bicari 1, Justin Boyd, David Lapins, Alec Taschereau, Kevin Graham 1, Matt Halajian, John Conway 3, George Torakis, Jerry McElroy, Dusan Aleksic. Head coach: Alexander Beslin

Croatia: 0 for 3
Canada: 2 for 4

Croatia: 1 for 2
Canada: none

The Canadians fought bravely but in the second part of the second period the Croats crushed them, scoring four goals in a span of 2:19 minutes. And it was four connecting action goals which did the damage. Until then it was a close call, standing 6-4 in the middle of the second, then came the whirlwind which blew the Canadians away. A change in the goal helped the North Americans a bit, Robin Randall conceded only two goals in 16 minutes, but being 4-10 down there was no way back. And we can add that Josip Pavic, at the other and, posted a series of great stops, offering a 68% saving percentage, enough to guarantee a smooth win.

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2015 FINA World Championships, Men’s Water Polo: Preliminary Round Day 1 – Results