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Day 1: FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Champs in Kuwait

by ZwemZa on December 11th, 2019

There was plenty to talk about on the opening day of the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships at the new Al-Nasar Sport Club Kuwait.

This is the first event to be staged at the fantastic sports complex that features three pools and the matches were up to the occasion.

In Group A, Croatia came back from 4-2 down to defeat South Africa 15-6, with three-goal hero Marko Zuvela  earned man-of-the-match honours. Croatia’s first lead came at 6-5 less than a minute from halftime. Japan, inspired by senior international Yusuke Inaba, came through with a 5-1 final quarter to beat Asian rival China 12-9. Inaba netted an incredible eight goals to secure the victory. Japan levelled the match four times before taking the lead for the first time four minutes from full time.

In Group B, Canada led 3-0 against Egypt, only to trail 5-4 at halftime. Two big quarters later and Canada was a 12-8 victor with senior international Jeremie Coté scoring five goals. Spain claimed the scalp of Hungary 9-7 in the final match of the day. The measured encounter was played out slowly with deliberate passing and shooting and exceptional Spanish goalkeeping.

In Group C, Iran had the better of host Kuwait, winning the regional clash 15-7. Kuwait was stung 7-1 in the first quarter and then settled to virtually tie the remainder of the time. Italy powered past United States of America 18-11 with a profoundly brilliant performance that should see the five-time champion back on the top tier. Mateo Spione and Ettore Novara spearheaded the team with seven of the goals.

In Group D, New Zealand opened powerfully with a 22-6 margin over Uzbekistan, built on a 14-2 opening half. The first red card of the tournament was awarded to goalkeeper Shokhboz Usmonjonov (UZB) less than a minute after making a penalty stop. Reigning champion Greece showcased its obvious skills with three returning champions scoring 14 of their team’s goals in the 16-9 victory over Australia. Captain Alexandros Papanastasiou scored five and was player of the match.

Progress points:
Group A: Croatia 2, Japan 2, China 0, South Africa 0.
Group B: Canada 2, Spain 2, Hungary 0, Egypt 0.
Group C: Iran 2, Italy 2, USA 0, Kuwait 0.
Group D: New Zealand 2, Greece 2, Australia 0, Uzbekistan 0.

Thursday Schedule:
Match 1, 09:00, Group A, SOUTH AFRICA 6 CROATIA 15
Match 2, 10:20, Group A, JAPAN 12 CHINA 9
Match 8, 11:40, Group D, UZBEKISTAN 6 NEW ZEALAND 22
Match 4, 13:00, Group B, CANADA 12 EGYPT 8
Match 6, 14:20, Group C, KUWAIT 7 IRAN 15
Match 7, 15:40, Group D, GREECE 16 AUSTRALIA 9
Match 5, 18:00, Group C, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 11 ITALY 18
Match 3, 19:20, Group B, SPAIN 9 HUNGARY 7

Friday Schedule:
Match 9, 08:30, Group B, EGYPT SPAIN
Match 10, 9:50, Group B, RUSSIA CANADA
Match 13, 13:30, Group D, NEW ZEALAND GREECE
Match 12, 14:50, Group C, MONTENEGRO KUWAIT
Match 14, 16:10, Group D, BRAZIL UZBEKISTAN
Match 11 17:30, Group C, IRAN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Match 15, 18:50, Group A, CHINA SOUTH AFRICA
Match 16, 20:10, Group A, SERBIA JAPAN

Match 1, 09:00, Group A, SOUTH AFRICA 6 CROATIA 15

Quarters: 2-1, 3-5, 1-5, 0-4

Referees: Conor Davis (AUS), Evgeniy Malinin (UZB)

Extra man: RSA: 1/8.   CRO: 1/8.

Penalties: RSA: 2/2. CRO: 1/1.

Teams:

SOUTH AFRICA: Keegan Clark, Mogamad Mayman, Christopher Beamish (1), Ethan Coryndon-Baker, Todd Howard (1), Ross Stone (1), Joshua Faber (3), Jonathan Swanepoel, David MacDonald, William Dowsett, Yaseen Margro, James Hablutzel, Barnard van Rooyen. Head Coach: Jason Sileno.

CROATIA: Jerko Jurlina, Ivan Malenica, Karlo Krekovic (1), Marin Vrdoljak (2), Luka Bajic (1), Filip Krzic (1), Goran Solje (1), Branimir Herceg (1), Jerko Penava (2), Matias Biljaka (1), Marko Zuvela (3), Lovro Paparic (2), Eugen Sunara. Head Coach: Josko Krekovic.

Match Report

Croatia had to come from 4-2 down to claim the opening victory of the championship. Croatia might have been slow out of the blocks, but that was because South Africa had come to win and played accordingly, gaining two penalty goals for the early advantage. That advantage went to 3-1 and 4-2 before Croatia levelled at 4-4 two minutes from halftime.  Joshua Faber screamed in his third goal for the 5-4 lead with Croatia replying and going into the second half 6-5 up. With Marko Zuvela earning match honours with his second and third goals for 9-6, South Africa had one success, thanks to a Video Analysis Review (VAR) after Christopher Beamish fired from out in the Gulf to hit the crossbar and bounce off the goalkeeper’s head into goal. Most people missed it and the match went forward a half minute when a penalty was called in Croatia’s favour before the VAR was called for from the officials’ bench. It was clearly over the line and awarded. For the next 13 minutes, South Africa could not score and the margin stretched to inevitability. South Africa was all graft as Croatia was pressured off the ball in the first half, but then tiredness set in and the fitter Croatians made the most of their opportunities. All credit goes to big centre forward Branimir Herceg who gained a lot of attention and will be someone to watch in Kuwait, if not the future. Lovro Paparic scored a brilliant tip-in goal off a low cross pass into two metres to give Croatia its first lead at 6-5. South Africa can feel proud of its effort in what was a an excellent start to the tournament, despite the final score.

Photos: Eszter Novak

Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

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