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Day 9: Greece retains FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo title

by ZwemZa on December 20th, 2019

(Eszter Novak)

Greece beat Serbia 6-4 for the gold medal on the final day of the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships at the Al-Nasar Sport Club Kuwait.

Greece led 2-0 at the quarter and 3-1 at halftime with the third period scoreless. An action-packed final period had Greece 5-2 ahead and then 5-4 before Konstantinos Kakaris put the match beyond doubt two minutes from time. Goalkeeper Nikolaos Mitrakis, who was named the best of the tournament, repulsed many Serbian attacks to get his team over the line.

Italy beat Croatia 9-6 for the bronze medal is a sour clash where two Croatian officals and two Croatian players were red-carded. Centre forward Ettore Novara was named best in water with four goals.

Spain secured fifth place with a 14-8 victory over Montenegro, Bernat Sanahuja claiming the player award with his five goals.

In the first match of the day, United States of America managed to keep Japan at bay 19-14 for seventh position in an exciting scoring encounter with Marko Vavic netting five for the USA and Yusuke Inaba six for Japan, closing his scoring tally in Kuwait at an amazing 36. For this effort and his ability to keep his team in the competition until the final day, he was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Footnote: Iran and Kuwait have been disqualified from the tournament after their encounter on Thursday was abandoned in the third period for “illegal entering of substitute players into the field of play”. They will not figure in the final placings.

Friday Schedule:

Classification 7-8
Match 69, 13:30, JAPAN 14 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 19

Classification 5-6 
Match 70, 15:00, MONTENEGRO 8 SPAIN 14

Classification 3-4
Match 71, 16:30, ITALY 9 CROATIA 6

Classification 1-2
Match 72, 18:00, SERBIA 4 GREECE 6

Final Placings:

1. Greece
2. Serbia
3. Italy
4. Croatia
5. Spain
6. Montenegro
7. United States of America
8. Japan
9. Hungary
10. Canada
11. Australia
12. New Zealand
13. Russia
14. South Africa
15. Egypt
16. China
17. Brazil
18. Uzbekistan

Awards:

Most Valuable Player
Yusuke Inaba (JPN)

Best Goalkeeper
Nikolaos Mitrakis (GRE)

Media All Star Team: Goalkeeper: Nikolaos Mitrakis (GRE). Centre Forward: Ettore Novara (ITA). Field Players: Yusuke Enaba (JPN), Konstaninos Gkiouvetsis (GRE), Alexandros Papanastasiou (GRE), Bernat Sanahuja (ESP), Dorde Vucinic (SRB).

Match 72, 18:00, SERBIA 4 GREECE 6

Classification 1-2

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

Referees: Michiel Zwart (NED), David Gomez (ESP)

Extra man: SRB: 3/14. GRE: 2/8.

Penalties: SRB:  GRE: 1/1.

Teams:

SERBIA: Pavle Gavrilovic, Stefan Brankovic (1), Andrej Barac, Aleksa Nesic, Nemanja Stanojevic (1), Petar Mitrovic, Dorde Vucinic, Aleksa Cvetkovic (1), Vasilije Martinovic, Kristian Sulc, Luka Pijevancic, Marko Radovic (1), Vladimir Misovic. Head Coach: Uros Stevanovic.

GREECE: Stylianos Dalmaras, Efstathios Kalogeropoulos, Ioannis Alafragkis (2), Konstaninos Gkiouvetsis (2), Dimitrios Nikolaidis (1), Alexandros Papanastasiou, Konstantinos Kakaris (1), Charalampos Rompopoulos, Efstathios Papageorgiou, Michail Diplaros, Aristeidis Chalyvopoulos, Michail Goniotakis, Nikolaos Mitrakis. Head Coach: Nikolaos Karamanis.

Match Report

Greece became a three-time champion and a back-to-back champion with a thrilling 6-4 victory over a determined, although a little nervous, Serbia. Greece was the better team all tournament and deserved the crown as probably the best-prepared team. Tensions were above boiling point early in the match with the referee having to call the two 5 caps to the side of the pool for a chat after an altercation. Semifinal sensation Konstaninos Gkiouvetsis opened the scoring from the penalty line and had his best start with a rocket from nine metres late in the first quarter and a two-metre rebound collection for a shovel into goal at 2:33 in the second period had Greece at 3-0. Marko Radovic finally put Serbia on the board at 1:18 from halftime on extra-man attack.  The third period was scoreless with both teams having some fantastic attempts. At the Greek end, it was left many times to the tournament’s best goalkeeper, Nikolaos Mitrakis, to save the day. On one Serbian attack we blocked three successive shots. Greece missed some easier shots with a Gkiouvetsis counter-attack bounced into the bar when it was expected he would score. Charalampos Rompopoulos collected his third major and Aleksa Cvetkovic converted the near-post shot for 3-2 at 6:57. At the other end Gkiouvetsis produced some magic, rising high at the top and lobbing into the top right for 4-2. Dimitrios Nikolaidis joined the party with a superb turn at two metres to hammer the ball into goal for a three-goal margin at 4:18. The next attack and Serbia converted extra-man with a Nemanja Stanojevic missile from the top to narrow the gap. Stefan Brankovic shot on the next attack from about six metres on the right side of the pool before the defence had formed to bring it to 5-4. Greece called a timeout on extra on its attack and three passes after the restart the ball connected with the hand of Konstantinos Kakaris on the right, near post to score for 6-4.  Kristian Sulc shot on extra and the ball struck the right upright and bounced behind Mitrakis, but it did not appear to go in and this was confirmed by the VAR decision. Greece used its attack and Serbia called a timeout at nine seconds. The resulting Serbia shot hit the left upright and Greece was champion again.

Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

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