Italy, Serbia, Greece and United States of America have forced their way into the next phase with second-round victories that see them poised for quarterfinal match-ups against the four group winners at the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships at the Swimming Complex Podolí, in Prague on Friday.

In the sudden-death quarterfinals, Italy will play Group B winner Spain, Serbia faces Group A’s Croatia, Greece will take on Group C’s Hungary and USA will front Group  D winner Montenegro.

There were no surprises on Thursday, although there was hesitancy from all the winners before emerging with the right result.

Photos courtesy of Total Waterpolo —

In the first second-round match for classifications 1-12, Italy was by far the more accomplished and polished team, beating South Africa 18-3, leading 5-0 at the quarter and 8-2 at halftime after a tight period. South Africa scored the last goal of the third quarter, but was kept scoreless in the final eight minutes as Italy honed its skills in time for the harder matches this weekend.

Matteo Iocchi Gratta was the classiest player in water, scoring five goals, including a penalty strike. Team-mate  Jacopo Parrella saw little of the match from the water, gaining a red card for misconduct at the top of the second period.

In the second match, Serbia overcame a sluggish start — and indeed a 2-0 deficit — to beat Brazil 15-5. It was Bruno Chiappini who stunned Serbia with the two early goals and it was not until 2:31 that Serbia registered its first goal, on counter-attack. It was to be the first of three on counter to lead the first period. Brazil was kept scoreless in the second quarter as Serbia surged to 10-3 late in the third and continued the march until the end with more dominant all-round play and confidence in front of goal.

Marco Radulovic was the best again for Serbia with his aggressive play and control of the ball, scoring four goals.

In the third encounter, reigning champion Greece kept its chances alive with a hard-pressed clash with Russia, winning 11-7 from a 7-3 halftime lead. Russia bounced back in the third, but it was the champion nature of Greece that won the fourth period and gain the quarterfinal berth. Daniil Ivannikov (RUS) was the top scorer with three while four Greek players scored twice each.

In the final match of the day, United States of America defeated Germany 10-8, needing to come back from 6-4 down at halftime and throw in a 4-0 third period to clinch the berth. Nicholas Tierney was the best scorer with three for USA while three Germans scored twice — Zoran Bozic, Maxilmilian Froreich and Mark Gansen.

In the lower-classification round 13-18, Kazakhstan beat Uzbekistan 19-8 with Timur Khassanov and Olzhas Kanysh scoring four each for the victor. And Egypt had the better of Czech Republic 9-5. The Czech players were delighted with the 3-2 “win” in the final quarter. Egypt’s top scorers were Adel Mohammed Sery and Abdelrahman Youssef with three each.

Friday matches see all 18 teams in action with classification semifinals for 13-18 and 9-12 and the 1-8 quarterfinals and the play-off for 17th and 18th between Uzbekistan and Czech Republic.

Thursday results:

Classification round 1-12: Italy 18 South Africa 3 (5-0, 3-2, 4-1, 6-0), Serbia 15 Brazil 5 (3-2, 3-1, 4-1, 5-1), Russia 7 Greece 11 (1-3, 2-4, 3-2, 1-2), USA 10 Germany 8 (2-2, 2-4, 4-0, 2-2).

Classification round 13-18: Uzbekistan 8 Kazakhstan 19 (1-3, 1-4, 3-6, 3-6), Czech Republic 5 Egypt 9 (1-2, 1-3, 0-2, 3-2).

Friday schedule:

For Classifications 17-18
09:30 L43 Uzbekistan v L44 Czech Republic

For Classifications 13-16 Semifinals
08:00 4A Argentina v 4B Slovakia
11:00 W43 Kazakhstan v W44 Egypt

For Classifications 9-12 Semifinals
12:30 L45 South Africa v L46 Brazil
14:00 L47 Russia v L48 Germany

For Classifications 1-8 Quarterfinals
15:30 1A Croatia v W46 Serbia
17:00 1B Spain v W45 Italy
18:30 1C Hungary v W47 Greece
20:00 1D Montenegro v W48 USA