Final Day Round-Up

Hungary had a last-minute goal to pip Georgia 11-10 for bronze. Romania blasted past Kazakhstan 15-5 to claim fifth place in the tournament. Ukraine got the better of South Africa, winning their contest 12-6 for seventh. Serbia rattled Saudi Arabia 13-3 to finish ninth while Kuwait finished 11th. 

Gold Medal Game 

Image Source: Torin Koos/World Aquatics

Montenegro comes back on Egypt to win in a sudden death penalty shootout, 15-14 (FT: 14-14. Pens: 0-1)

You could have heard a pin drop when Montenegro drew level 21 seconds from full-time to force a penalty shootout. Up until then it had been a raucous crowd, chanting and cheering on their home team as Egypt only trailed for 37 seconds and kept making Montenegro come back into the reckoning.

The match was on even pegging at one, two, three, five, six, eight, nine, 13 and finally 14 as Egypt dictated the play. Its biggest leads were 5-3, 11-9, 12-10 and 13-11. The quarter breaks showed 5-5, 9-8 and 12-10 on the scoreboard.

The match was a stunning display of speed, knowledge, ability to find gaps, strong shooting and this style of match was grasped with open arms by the Egyptians, in particular. You could say, they reached the top of the pyramid.

As Stefan Porobic scored the equaliser and Egypt’s Ahmed Atef bounced his final shot into the crossbar, the match was destined to a shootout. The tournament deserved this as people left the pool later demanding more of this style of play.

The goalmouth is 3.5m wide and only 80cm high; the shooter goes from the five-metre line and the goalkeeper is still the same size, so getting a ball over the line is not easy. Egypt won the toss and shot first, hitting the post and having two shots blocked in the normal three-man rotation. Montenegro fared no better, hitting the right post and having two saved.

This led to the sudden death portion and Atef sent his shot wide while Nikola Brkic speared in his 20th goal of the tournament and, most importantly, to secure the gold medal and top qualification. The Egyptian crowd was silenced again. Slowly, many stood and cheered both teams and especially Egypt’s valiant effort.

Match Difference Makers

Brkic with his six goals and Egypt’s Ahmed Elsapagh with seven goals to give him 25 goals for the weekend, one behind Georgia’s Georgi Magrakvelidze. It was the second time Elsapagh scored seven in a match in Somabay.

The Decider

Porobic’s clincher inside the final minute. That and Brkic’s lone penalty shot after seven misses in the shootout.

Stats Critical

Montenegro nailed four from seven on extra and Egypt five from 10. Egypt scored five from five at the penalty line and Montenegro two from three.

What They Said

Stefan Porobic (MNE)
It’s a difficult match, it’s difficult to play against Egypt in their pool, in front of their fans. We can see the results they’ve had in this tournament, it’s really hard to beat to them.

“To be honest, we started poorly. We didn’t have one single lead throughout the whole game. We were behind the whole time, but we managed to find some mental strength to be able to come back. We came back to score the equaliser to take it to penalties. We are really satisfied.

“We’ve had this mental strength this entire tournament. With this group of guys, we have some special connection. Really. Everyone likes everyone, everyone supports each other, including the coaches. So that gave us some extra mental strength.”

On what this means means for Montenegro:
You know when I was a kid, I spent my whole day playing in the water, actually playing three-on-three on one goal. This helps a lot; you learn how to manage yourself in the sea water. It’s something different than being in the pool, with the wind and the waves.

“It’s in our blood, we know how to play it. It means a lot to be the first champion in this game. We think it’s our game – the countries along the Adriatic Sea. I hope this tournament will elevate beach water polo and there will be more and more tournaments like this.”

Dragoljub Cetkovic (MNE) — Goalkeeper

I started a little bit worse than the last days. I needed to catch and block some balls to get that self confidence. Later in the game, I got some nice saves. The self-confidence then came and when it came to penalties in the shootout, they couldn’t score on me.

Stefan Porobic (MNE) — “He’s our MVP for this game.”

Ahmed Elsapagh (EGY)
Of course, it was a very tough game. Unfortunately for us, Montenegro could catch up to our score right at the end with a final goal to bring the match to a penalty shootout. In the shootout, our goalkeeper could stop their first three shots, but we didn’t convert any of our last one-on-one shots. Congratulations to Montenegro. Now, we’re focused on making even better results in Bali.”

On the crowd and playing at home in Somabay: “For sure it gave us a great push to play in our country with all these fans cheering for us. They gave us great motivation to play – and play at our very best. Of course, in Bali, we won’t have this crowd, but we’ll do our best to make the same results.”

Bronze Medal Game 

Hungary out-tussles Georgia, 11-10

Image Source: Torin Koos/World Aquatics

A goal in the final minute was enough to get Hungary across the line for the bronze after Georgia controlled much of the first half. Hungary opened the scoring with Georgia equalising and then taking the lead three times before gifting two penalty goals to Hungary just before halftime, ending 5-7.

Hungary took it to 8-5 and 10-6 with Georgia clawing one back three seconds from the final break. A score from deep left and a magnificent centre-forward play with Khvicha Jakhaia drawing the exclusion and whipping the pass out and receiving a high-lob pass to turn and score for a one-goal deficit.

Hungary took a timeout, drew a penalty foul and sent the Mikasa into both posts without crossing the line, leaving the result wide open. Georgia took the initiative and Giorgi Magrakvelidze scored his fifth goal for the sixth leveller of the match. Just 14 seconds later, Marcell Kolozsi made it a Hungarian victory at 11-10.

Match Difference Makers

Magrakvelidze was a scoring machine for Georgia, netting a tournament-high 26 goals, finishing with five goals in this match. Hungarian Rolf Bencz drilled four goals.

The Decider

The final goal, when Kolozsi had the confidence to score from the left-hand-catch position with 50 seconds still on the clock to break the deadlock.

Stats Critical

Georgia had the better statistics, converting four from five on extra to Hungary’s none from six. On penalties, Georgia converted one from one and Hungary one from two.

What They Said

Frank Pelli (HUN)
This was an exceptionally hard game. Georgia is a very good team, so I’m very pleased that we won. It’s very important for Hungary, for us. This is a very big accomplishment for Hungary. Beach water polo is a new sport in Hungary, so it’s very important that in the first world tournament (since 2019) that we can go home with the bronze medal.”

Classification 5-6 |Kazakhstan 5 Romania 15

Romania was all class and overpowered Kazakhstan, reaching a 10-goal margin by the final break, thus ending the match prematurely. Romania routed Kazakhstan 9-2 in the first quarter, stretched the score to 13-4 by halftime and took the foot off the accelerator in the third. It scored two from four on penalties in the final period.

Romania used a tactic not seen with other teams, using the goalkeeper to come up to halfway on a regular basis. Referee Rajmund Fodor, Olympic champion with Hungary is 2000, made a nice one-handed catch of a rebounding ball before it fled into the sea.

Match Difference Makers

Maximilian Costa, so often pouring in goals during the tournament, added six more while team-mate Tommaso Insinna grabbed four. Kazakhstan’s only double scorer was Damir Temyrlkhanov.

The Decider

The mind-blowing opening quarter.

Stats Critical

This is where finding the winner is easy. Romania converted four from eight on extra and jammed in five from eight on penalties. Kazakhstan scored one from two on extra and sent in its only penalty shot.

Classification 7-8 | South Africa 6 Ukraine 12

Ukraine raced to a 4-0 lead and ended the quarter 4-1 up. It was tighter in the second quarter with both teams missing penalty chances and finishing at 6-2. Ukraine shifted gear and went to 10-4 by the final break and onwards to victory with a 2-2 flourish.

South Africa failed to take advantage of all the ejections it was earning, proving too slow to shoot. Ukraine, meanwhile, was all action, finding plenty of space in which to receive and shoot.

Match Difference Makers

Oleksandr Diadiura topped the scorers with six goals, two more than team-mate Maksym Osyka. South Africa’s Matthew Neser netted three.

The Decider

The 3-0 start said it all.

Stats Critical

Ukraine showed why it won, converting four from eight on extra-man attack to South Africa’s paltry one from 12. On penalties, South Africa made it one from three and Ukraine none from one.

Classification 9-10 | Serbia 13 Saudi Arabia 3

This match was called off at halftime after Saudi Arabian goalkeeper Yaseer Bakr Barnawi withdrew from the match before the third goal was scored against him. He struggled to the side of the pool and departed to be replaced by a field player.

It was a strange match as Serbia went through the first quarter 7-0. The teams had started at the wrong ends, so they switched before the second quarter. The match progressed to 10-0 and 11-2 before finishing 13-3, when it was decided to discontinue the match.

Final Tournament Results

Check out the box scores and final results from the beach water polo tournament in Somabay here