domenica 24 agosto 2014

2014 FINA Men's World Cup Almaty, Kazakhstan 19-24 August: Serbia retains World Cup crown in penalty shootout over Hungary

© Russel McKinnon
Serbia proved its dominance of world water polo in 2014 with a clean sweep of the major events, beating Hungary 11-9 in a penalty shootout on the sixth day of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World Cup at Almaty’s Central Swimming Pool today.
For the third time this year, Serbia beat Hungary in a gold-medal final after the June FINA World League Super Final in Dubai, UAE, and the July European Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The victory was the third time Serbia has reached the top step on the podium after winning as Serbia & Montenegro in Budapest in 2006 and as Serbia in Oradeo, Romania in 2010. Much of the success of Serbia was put down to goalkeeper Stefan Zivodinovic , whose vital saves in the dying moments of the final typified his drive, determination and blocking skills. For Hungary it was a fourth silver medal to go with its three gold and two bronzes at World Cups — the most medals of any country since the first edition in 1979. Hungary’s last victory was in 1999 in Sydney, Australia at the start of its magnificent run that led to three consecutive Olympic titles. Hungary led most of the match and was only inside the final two minutes that Serbia drew level to force the penalty shootout and win it 4-2 for ultimate success in Almaty. Hungarian captain Daniel Varga was adjudged the best player in the tournament, as voted by the coaches, so dangerous an opponent he was.
In the bronze-medal final, Croatia added to its lone silver achieved in Oradeo last time out, beating United States of America 8-6. For the USA, it was not to be a first bronze medal, following golds in 1991 in Barcelona, Spain and 1997 in Athens, Greece. It also won two silvers — in 1979 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and 1985 in Duisberg, Germany. USA’s Jesse Smith was named the best defender and teammate Bret Bonnani amassed the highest number of goals with 13. Australia, whose previous best at World Cups was a bronze medal in 1993, took out fifth place with a well-controlled 12-6 victory over Kazakhstan, who upset Montenegro the day before. It was Kazakhstan’s first visit to the World Cup. Montenegro, so disappointing in Almaty, had to settle for seventh place, beating South Africa, another World Cup newcomer, 13-10. Earlier in the week Montenegro beat South Africa 12-4, so it showed how much the African qualifier improved during the week. From the tournament, four teams qualified for the 2015 FINA World Championships. As Serbia and Hungary had qualified from the FINA World League, the next four teams gained a spot for Kazan — Croatia, USA, Australia and Kazakhstan.
Working the score bench during the week was former international referee Vladimir Prikhodko (KAZ), who refereed the 1999 men’s World Cup final in Sydney. Among his many other appointments, he also controlled the 1996 Olympic Games men’s final in Atlanta, USA, the 2000 Olympic women’s final in Sydney and the final of the men’s FINA World Championship in Rome, Italy in 1994.

Schedule and results

Sunday, 24 August - final round

South Africa vs. Montenegro 10-13 (2-3, 1-3, 4-4, 3-3) - (7th/8th place)

SOUTH AFRICA: Dwayne Flatscher, Etienne Le Roux (2), Devon Card (1), Ignardus Badenhorst (2), Nicholas Rodda, Joao Marco De Carvalho (1), Lodewyk Rabie (1), Jared Wingate-Pearse, Dean Whyte, Pierre Le Roux (3), Christopher Baker, Nicholas Hock, Julian Lewis. Head Coach: Paul Martin.

MONTENEGRO: Dejan Lazovic, Marko Vukmirovic, Nikola Markovic (1), Stefan Vidovic (1), Darko Brguljan, Bogdan Durdic, Dorde Bulatovic (2), Jovan Saric (4), Radovan Latinovic, Nikola Murisic (3), Filip Klikovac, Uros Cuckovic (2), Slaven Kandic. Head Coach: Ranko Perovic.

Montenegro gained its second win of the week and they were both against South Africa. Montenegro won the first encounter in the rounds 12-4. While South Africa seemed to improve with each match, Montenegro has had a patchy week and needed to save face with victory today. South Africa showed its best attacking play of the week and opened through Etienne Le Roux from the top right. Montenegro went 2-1 up and Etienne Le Roux equalised. However, Nikola Murisic, off the near post, converted extra-man attack for 3-2 by quarter time. Jovan Saric scored twice, Uros Cuckovic added a second and the match was at 6-2. Radovan Latinovic was sent for disrespect at 5:28 in the second quarter and left the pool deck. Joao Marco De Carvalho lifted South Africa to within three at 5:06 and there were no more goals for the half. The third period was exciting for the number of goals and the fact that it was squared at 4-4. Pierre Le Roux scored his first and second and Saric netted his third for Montenegro. Both teams scored a centre-forward goal — a rarity at this event — to close the quarter at 10-7. Murisic received a clean pass cross-cage to tip in for 11-7 in the fourth quarter and Pierre Le Roux responded with a high-left shot at the other end for his third goal. Just like he did against South Africa earlier in the tournament, Saric scored his fourth goal on extra for 12-8 and ninth for the tournament. Badenhorst scored his second with a backhander from two metres and Murisic netted a third at 2:23. The final score belonged to South Africa when Devon Card tipped in an angled pass to two metres for double figures. South Africa scored just nine goals in the five lead-up matches, so to manage 10 in the last day — and against Montenegro — was most commendable.

Australia vs. Kazakhstan 12-6 (1-1, 5-2, 4-2, 2-1) - (5th/6th place)

AUSTRALIA: James Clark, Richard Campbell, George Ford, John Cotterill (4), Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist (1), Aidan Roach (3), Aaron Younger (3), Lachlan Edwards, Tyler Martin, Mitchell Emery (1), Blake Edwards, Edward Slade, James Stanton. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.

KAZAKHSTAN: Makhmetov Madikhen, Sergey Gubarev, Yevgeniy Medvedev, Roman Pilipenko (1), Vladimir Ushakov, Alexey Shmider, Murat Shakenov, Anton Koliadenko (1), Rustam Ukumanov (2), Mikhail Ruday (1), Ravil Manafov (1), Branko Pekovich, Valeriy Shlemov. Head Coach: Sergey Drozdov.

Australia played a controlled match against a potentially potent Kazakhstan, fresh from qualifying for next year’s FINA World Championships in Russia. Playing without a renowned centre forward, worked for extra-man chances and conversions while taking good options. Kazakhstan was not allowed to play at the intensity of the day before. Both teams took time to settle into the match and it was not until 1:18 that Anton Koliadenko blasted one in from the top for Kazakhstan. At 0:28, John Cotterill converted extra man at his second attempt of the phase. He opened the second quarter from deep left and a minute later Jarrod Gilchrist had the Aussie Sharks 3-1 up on a 2m cross pass on extra. Rustam Ukumanov converted a penalty; Aidan Roach sent one into the bottom right from the top and Ukumanov slid sideways , accepted a pass and scored from deep left for 4-3. Aaron Younger accepted the easiest of cross passes to score from point blank and Cotterill scored his eighth goal of the tournament from the left-post position on a one-stroke drive for 6-3 by halftime. Roach took it to 7-3 early in the third period and Mikhail Ruday responded on counter. Younger grabbed his second, also on counter and Roman Pilipenko converted extra-man attack for 8-5. Cotterill scored his fourth and Roach his third — on counter — for 10-5 by 1:37. Both teams called a timeout, but could not gain a goal by the final break. Ravil Manafov started the fourth period to breathe life into Kazakhstan’s claims, but Younger with his third and Mitchell Emery on extra, took the score out to 12-6 in favour of the Sharks. On the opening night, Australia beat Kazakhstan 11-8.

USA vs. Croatia 6-8 (2-2, 1-3, 0-2, 3-1) - (3rd/4th place)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Merrill Moses, Ryder Roberts, Alex Obert (1), Michael Rosenthal, Luca Cupido (1), Conner Cleary, Josh Samuels, Bret Bonnani, Alex Bowen (2), Nolan McConnell (1), Jesse Smith (1), John Mann, McQuin Baron. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.

CROATIA: Marko Bijac, Luka Bukic (2), Ivan Milakovic (3), Marino Divkovic, Ante Vukicevic (1), Ivan Buljubasic, Petar Muslim, Kristijan Milakovic (1), Ante Viskovic, Duje Zivkovic, Andelo Setka, Marko Macan (1), Ivan Marcelic. Head Coach: Ivica Tucak.

Croatia claimed the bronze medal with a strong game in the middle part of the match. By restricting USA to one goal in those periods, it set itself up for the victory. USA opened through Nolan McConnell  and led 2-1 when Jesse Smith dragged down a ball on the far post on extra-man attack by 2:13. However, Luca Bukic repaired the damage, also on extra, to close the quarter at 2-2. Ivan Milakovic scored a centre-forward goal for 3-2 on the first attack of the second quarter and the margin stretched out to three when Ante Vukicevic and Kristijan Milakovic gave Croatia the lead it needed. Alex Bowen fired one back for USA to close the half at 5-3 in favour of Croatia. Ivan Milakovic scored his third and Bukic his second in the only goals of the period at a time when USA struggled on extra-man attack and could not make the shots count. At four goals down by the final break, USA was not out of the match. Luca Cupido pulled back one but Marko Macan took it back out to four. Both teams went to timeouts and Bowen made USA’s break work when scoring at 3:53 for 8-5. Bret Bonnani had a chance to narrow it further at 2:27, but his penalty attempt was blocked by Marko Bijac. Alex Obert made sure of his shot at 1:02 for 8-6, but it was too late. The middle of the match proved the killer for USA and assured Croatia of the bronze medal.

Hungary vs. Serbia 9-11 (2-1, 3-3, 1-1, 1-2; penalties: 2-4) - - (1st/2nd place)

HUNGARY: Attila Decker, Miklos Gor-Nagy, Norbert Madaras (1), Balazs Erdelyi (4), Bence Batori (1), Norbert Hosnyanszky (1), Adam Decker (1), Daniel Angyal, Daniel Varga, Krisztian Bedo, Balazs Harai (1), Marton Levai. Head Coach: Tibor Benedek.

SERBIA: Stefan Zivodinovic, Strahinja Rasovic (1), Dimitrije Obradovic (2), Dusan Markovic, Gavril Subotic (3), Nikola Eskert, Dusan Mandic (1), Viktor Rasovic, Sava Randelovic, Nemanda Ubovic (1), Dusan Vasic (2), Srdan Vuksanovic, Dimitrije Risticevic. Head Coach: Dejan Savic.

Serbia needed a goal inside the final two minutes to force a penalty shootout and Gavril Subotic gave Serbia that chance. In the shootout one Hungarian shot was blocked and the second hit the crossbar. Serbia made sure of all four attempts and laid its hands on the trophy. Hungary made all the play until the final two minutes and wanted to prove that it was not a one-man team. Hungary played without Denes Varga, who was on a one-match suspension for a brutality foul sustained late in the semifinal match with USA on Saturday. He sat in the media stand, draped in a Hungarian robe.
The first quarter was tight with two action goals and Bence Batori’s opening goal on extra. Serbia levelled through Dimitrije Obradovic on counter, receiving a pass and turning to score. Adam Decker and Norbert Hosnyanszky made it 4-2 before Nemanda Ubovic, who missed a match through suspension earlier in the tournament, pulled one back from the two-metre line. Gavril Subotic scored his 10th goal of the World Cup on extra to level at 4-4. Daniel Angyal had a glorious chance to take Hungary ahead late in the period but watched as his point-blank shot was blocked by goalkeeper Stefan Zivodinovic, the best keeper of the tournament. Balazs Erdelyi struck twice for Hungary, the first from an inside pass on two metres for 5-4 to close the half. Then he opened the third quarter with a blast from four metres for 6-4 at 6.50 in the third. Obradovic converted extra-man attack for 6-5 at 4:46 and from then until the end of the period, there were no more goals. Decker scored his second on extra when he received a pass from Daniel Varga for 7-5 at 6:42 in the fourth period. Dusan Vasic scored above the head of  Attila Decker for 706 at 5:32.
The match was starting to get to the most exciting stage and Denes Varga was standing in the seats. Both teams missed extra-man chances heading into the final three minutes. On the third extra, Krisztian Bedo had a close shot blocked, as Serbia had its attempt stopped at the other end. Serbia gained a turnover inside two minutes and Subotic calmly took the ball up and when not defended he sent the ball into the top left for 7-7 at 1:40.  On the next attack, Sava Randelovic gained his third major foul and Hungary called a timeout at 1:17. Hosnyanszky steered the ball to Balasz Harai on the far post, but Zivodinovic blocked it, as he did a subsequent shot. Hungary regained and, with the seconds ticking down, captain Daniel Varga, voted the most valuable player of the tournament despite missing two matches through an allergic reaction to celery, took the crucial final shot. It bounced off a defender and hit Zivodinovic in the face and the match went to a penalty shootout. Hungary shot first and Madaras and Mandic traded goals. Then Batori had his shot blocked by the keeper. Subotic scored his 12th goal of the week and Hosnyanszky hit the cross bar. Strahinja Rasovic converted for 10-8 and Erdelyi made it 9-10. The Vasic stepped up to score for Serbia and take the gold medal at 11-9.

Match reports and photographs: Russel McKinnon.
Award winners

MVP: Daniel Varga (HUN)

Best goalkeeper Stefan Zivodinovic.

Highest goal-scorer Bret Bonnanni (USA)

Best defender: Jessie Smith (USA)

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