Colombia men and women are through to the gold-medal matches after fourth-day action at the FINA Challengers’ Cup water polo event in Barranquilla, Colombia on Friday. The women will have the first chance to impress the local crowd against Thailand as the women’s match has been shifted to Saturday and the bronze-medal encounter to Sunday because of Thailand’s flight arrangements. Colombia men beat Venezuela 18-8 and will play Puerto Rico, who upset Kuwait 7-4.
Thailand will face Colombia for the women’s gold medal in day-five action on Saturday.
This match was originally scheduled for Sunday but, because of Thailand’s flight schedule, the match has been brought forward a day.
The bronze-medal encounter between Puerto Rico and Venezuela will now take place on Sunday, before the men’s gold-medal match.
Thailand arrived at the golden match with an 11-10 margin over Puerto Rico while Colombia sent off Venezuela 14-5.
The Puerto Rico-Thailand clash followed on from Thursday’s 11-8 victory by Puerto Rico over Thailand. It was 3-3 at the quarter and then Thailand surged to 7-4 by halftime, seemingly taking control and set to pull away. Puerto Rico would have none of that and brought the score to 8-8 with a nine-metre missile — not unusual in this women’s tournament — to end the quarter. Puerto Rico had to level again at 9-9 with another strike from the top, only for Thailand to score on extra from deep left.
A quickly taken extra-man shot found the net for 11-9 at 1:44 and Puerto Rico’s reply came at 0:39 from the left-hand-catch position. Thailand wasted its time and Puerto Rico set its sights on the equaliser, but the final pass to the centre forward was intercepted and Thailand had turned the result of the previous day.
Puerto Rico’s Andrea Cardona was the best with five goals while Kamkarn Puengpongsa and Kritsana Puangtong netted three each for Thailand.
The second semifinal was not such a nailbiter, although the first half proved that Venezuela’s rise throughout the week has been through playing international competition. Colombia raced to 3-0 and led the quarter at 3-2. Venezuela pulled it back to 3-2 and drifted to 4-2 at halftime. Colombia applied the after-burners in the third period with a 6-1 effort that had a spate of penalty fouls — Colombia converting three and Venezuela missing its chance. A counter-attack goal and two from extra-man attack had the final-break scoreline at 10-3. From there it was a formality for Colombia with a 4-2 period for victory.
Susana Atehortua nailed six goals for Colombia and Jesnalin Asevis made three for Venezuela. The previous day’s result between the pair was 12-5.
The men’s semifinals witnessed third-ranked Puerto Rico upsetting second-ranked Kuwait 7-4 and Colombia defeated Venezuela 18-8.
Kuwait was lacklustre on day three and improved somewhat today with a close first half, leading 2-1 at the quarter and allowing Puerto Rico to level at 3-3 by halftime. A lob shot that had the goalkeeper struggling to regroup the ball, was the impetus for Puerto Rico at 1:02 in the third period and then a score from the top at 0:20 after a Kuwaiti counter was blocked by the keeper.
The 5-3 advantage for Puerto Rico was trimmed to 5-4 when Mohammed Alrumaidhin at deep left turned his opponent to score. A centre-forward lob by Jafet Hernandez when the goalkeeper came out moved the score to 6-4 and a centre-forward backhand by Angel Rosado on the left-post position closed the scoring at 3:21 and Puerto Rico advanced to the final.
Hernandez topped the scoring with three and Kuwait’s best was Yousef Basakhar with two.
Colombia controlled its match with Venezuela, thanks to the powerful Steven Sanchez at centre forward and his devastating backhand, finishing the opening quarter 5-2 and strangling Venezuela 9-3 at halftime. A 7-2 third quarter showed up the difference between these teams and sets Colombia up for Sunday’s final against Puerto Rico.
Congratulations to Venezuela of never giving up and winning the final quarter 3-2. Sanchez was joined on three goals by team-mates Nelson Camacho and Enzo Salina, while Venezuela’s best scorer was Alexander Morey with four.
Friday semifinal results:
Men: Kuwait 4 Puerto Rico 7 (2-1, 1-2, 0-2, 1-2), Colombia 18 Venezuela 8 (5-2, 4-1, 7-2, 2-3).
Women: Puerto Rico 10 Thailand 11 (3-3, 1-4, 4-1, 2-3), Colombia 14 Venezuela 5 (3-1, 1-1, 6-1, 4-2).
15:30, Women’s Gold, Thailand v Colombia
17:30, Men’s Bronze, Kuwait v Venezuela