Match Reports



 Pictures courtesy of Zsigmond Bathori/World Aquatics

Croatia’s big win was constructed on a magnificent 11-0 start in 12 minutes and from that point the awakened Japanese won the rest match 12-10. Croatia can be forgiven for taking the foot off the accelerator with such an advantage to conserve energy for the important matches to come.

Croatia was the first of the Division I teams to join the Group A and B first two teams in the quarterfinals and showed that size and power make a difference, especially when tackling smaller players at two metres. Robert Stojanac was typical of this with his two huge two-metre goals in the first quarter and a third on counter. Croatia drew a tournament-high six penalty fouls in a match where the shots were coming thick and fast.

This match produced the most penalty goals — nine — and the highest number of shots at 75. It also produced the highest-scoring quarters with 12 in each of the second and third periods. Croatia was all over Japan in the first 12 minutes and then the Asian team played some of its best water polo of the tournament. From the ridiculous to the sublime. However, it means now that ninth can be only the best result.

Croatia opened with a 5-0 quarter and led 13-4 at halftime. Japan won the third period 7-5 and Croatia closed the match with a 3-1 fourth quarter.

Match Heroes
Mauro Cubranic was excellent in the Croatian goal during the first half, making nine saves and completely outfoxing Japan. Noa Burburan topped the Croatian scoring with four with a neat six-metre lob, a centre-forward tip in, a penalty goal and then a goal off a long cross pass on counter — the last two in the final quarter. Japan’s Daichi Ogihara remains the tournament’s leading scorer with another five goals, including the last three of the third quarter. Three came from the penalty line. He now sits on 23 goals from four matches.

Turning Point
That 12-minute stint that kept Japan scoreless.

Stats Don’t Lie
Incredible numbers with Japan edging Croatia with 38 shots to 37. Croatia converted all six penalty attempts and Japan three. On extra-man attack — when was there time for this? — Croatia scored two from four and Japan four from seven.

Bottom Line
Croatia was too big and much stronger than Japan. Croatia now plays Serbia in the quarterfinals and Japan will play Romania in the 9-12 bracket semifinals.


This match had it all with tension, heavy fouling, VAR decisions and tempers fraying in and out of the pool. The match was marred, but not defined, by a violence foul early in the second quarter that caused confusion more than anything and set USA up for an excellent chance to take out the match early.

It was Australian Rory McKell who allegedly struck his opponent in the face after being ejected on a major foul early in the second quarter. A penalty was awarded for the dead-time foul and blocked, so the match progressed for some time before officials decided to check the footage and decide it was a violence foul, warranting a rewinding of the clock, another penalty shot and four minutes with an extra player in the pool. The penalty was retaken and scored for a 5-4 advantage.

However, it was not plain sailing. Australia’s only senior men’s player to travel to Fukuoka, Japan next month, Marcus Berehulak, took it upon himself to ruin USA’s man-up advantage, scoring three goals to USA’s two (after the penalty conversion). Normally the team with the man up would advance its cause. His first shot was off a six-metre foul, drilling the ball from 10 metres. If that was not enough, at the end of possession time he scored a miraculous goal from halfway!

At 2:24, USA was denied a seemingly legal goal and head coach Jack Kocur rightfully protested. After watching VAR and lots of talking, Australia was awarded a penalty at 1:42, which Berehulak converted for 7-7 — the halftime score. With nerves frazzled, the third period was more like a let-down with just the one goal coming from Ryder Dodd from the top on extra.

The younger of the two Dodds, Ryder (17) had three goals before the final quarter started and he added to his tally with two more — one on counter and the other accepting an easy pass on an Aussie turnover. Berehulak nabbed his sixth goal from eight attempts and William Schneider closed the scoring at 1:57, denying any chance for the Aussies to advance.

Match Heroes
West Temkin sucked in 11 saves in the USA goal, which was instrumental in the victory. Ryder Dodd scored five goals in a standout field-playing performance. Berehulak, with six goals, was enormous and his shooting was chancy on at least three occasions, but they came off.

Turning Point
It was not the red card, as it turned out. It was Ryder Dodd’s three consecutive goals in the third and fourth quarters that turned 7-7 into 10-7.

Stats Don’t Lie
Australia shot 30 times to 26, but could not convert any of its three extra-man chances while USA plundered four from 13. USA converted both penalty attempts to Australia’s one.

Bottom Line
USA is the more balanced team and deserves to remain in the top eight and earns a shot at Montenegro in the quarterfinals. Australia, so gutsy despite the red card, goes to the 9-12 semifinals, taking on Netherlands.


This was the closest any Division II team could come to a Division I side. However, Netherlands had only two scorers while Italy had a greater arsenal. It was a heroic effort by the Dutch while the steady Italians stuck it out and made sure of advancement to the quarterfinals.

It was Mart van der Weijden who was the mainstay of the Dutch team, opening with the first two goals. He scored a third to level at three while senior Settebello member Francesco Condemi scored from a six-metre foul and a swift centre-forward drive to have Italy 5-3 up a at the first break.

Jen Wijgers was the other Dutch player on form, opening the second quarter with Italy stretching out to 7-4 before van der Weijden pounced twice more before the turn.

Wijgers opened and closed the second half, bringing the score to 7-7 and 8-8 with an Alessandro Balzarini Italian goal in between. Balzarini netted his third to start the fourth and three minutes later van der Weijden brought home his sixth goal from 10 attempts for 9-9. The match was anyone’s. At 1:49, Samuele Boezi scored his second goal of the week and what a stunner! Sitting at centre forward, he jumped on an outside shot that rebounded off the crossbar and sent it into the net for what was the winner. The Dutch took a timeout and lost the ball and Italy called time to waste the last 17 seconds to secure victory.

Match Heroes
Van der Weijden was inspirational for the Dutch, but his heroics were not enough to get his team across the line. Wijgers’ three goals were also brilliant. Balzarini, with his three goals, was the best scorer for Italy, but it has to be Boezi who will celebrate the most.

Turning Point
Italy’s initial three-goal shift, then Netherlands’ three goals straddling halftime. Otherwise, it was Boezi’s final blast.

Stats Don’t Lie
Both teams shot 26 times, Italy converted four from eight and Netherlands three from 12 on extra-man attack while there were no penalties awarded.

Bottom Line
Netherlands was unlucky not to progress. But will be a big threat in the 9-12 semifinals against Australia on Friday. Italy will need to sharpen up if it wishes to outdo possible champion Hungary in Thursday’s quarterfinals.


Greece secured its first win of the tournament, defeating host nation Romania on the back of a 4-1 third period.  An opening stanza of 3-0 also helped the cause with Romania always trying to bridge the gap.

That 3-0 became 4-2 at the first break, improved to 7-5 at halftime and blew out to 11-6 at the final break. This became 13-6 and eventually 15-8. Greece would have been disappointed if it did not win and stay in the top eight while Romania was trying its best for the hosts.

Match Heroes
Nekarios Iliopolis was again the main man here for Greece with a magnificent 15 saves and correctly was named best in pool. Team-mate Nikolaos Gkillas fired in four goals by the time his side had 10 goals and Apostolos Georgaras continued the theme with three of his own in the last nine minutes. For Romania, David Belenyesi was at his best with three goals, including a rebound conversion for 13-7.

Turning Point
The 6-1 break either side of the halftime break, lifting Greece to 11-5.

Stats Don’t Lie
There was not much difference between the teams despite the score. Greece shot one less at 34-33, converted five from seven on extra-man attack to Romania’s four from nine and Romania scored the only penalty goal.

Bottom Line
Romania could not do it for the home crowd and must now concentrate on finishing ninth when it plays Japan in the 9-12 semifinals on Friday.

Classification 13-19

Group G Crossover


New Zealand’s promising start came to nought, leading 2-1 and 3-2 before Germany took control of the match and steered a winning path. From 2-2, Germany won the first period 5-3, stretched the margin to five for 8-3 and turned at 8-4. The fourth New Zealand goal was a repeat of the first goal when Tony Tua-Tagaloa sent in a centre-forward backhand shot. The second Kiwi goal was identical, but this time with Taine Pickering producing the shot.

New Zealand opened the third period, but four German strikes had the score in the Europeans’ favour 12-5. Kelly Mcdowell, as he did to the start the third, began the fourth with an extra-man goal, destined to be the last Kiwi score as Germany struck three more times with three different scorers, meaning all 11 field players made the sheet.

Match Heroes
Germany’s Robin Rehm collected the match trophy for best in water, netting three times, including the first two and then a nine-metre arrow at 9-5. German goalkeeper Max Spittank made 10 saves. New Zealand’s Tua-Tagaloa and Mcdowell scored twice each.

Turning Point
The 6-0 juggernaut run on the autobahn from 3-2 down to 8-3 ahead by Germany.

Stats Don’t Lie
Germany converted six from 10 on extra-man attack to the Kiwis’ two from seven. Germany rained in 28 shots to 23 and scored the only penalty of the match.

Bottom Line
Germany takes on Argentina for Group supremacy on Thursday and New Zealand plays for 17th on Friday.

Group H Crossovers



South Africa won its first match in Otopeni with a handsome margin while Peru repeated its effort against Iran with another six goals. It was a slow build for the African team, leading just 2-0 at quarter time with a disallowed penalty goal, then shunted the score out to 6-0 late in the second quarter.

Peru took a timeout and was successful with the extra-man play for the first goal. A South African penalty attempt was rejected and Peru netted two counter-attack goals to close the period 6-3 behind.

South Africa started the second half strongly with four straight goals — to Sebastian Riley Nielsen — before Peru hit another purple patch with successive goals, one on extra and the other on action. Riley Nielsen scored his third of the period for 11-5 at the final break. Peru scored again in the fourth with South Africa winning the period 3-1 and the match 15-6.

Match Heroes
Jordan Harrod topped the scoring with four goals for South Africa while Peru’s best player was goalkeeper Ricardo Fuentes with 11 saves. Lorenzo Rodriguez and Felipe Pinillos both had doubles for Peru.

Turning Point
The opening six goals by the Africans.

Stats Don’t Lie
South Africa shot 34 times to 24; converted just one from five on extra-man attack to Peru’s two from 12, but blundered the two penalty attempts.

Bottom Line
It was a first win for South Africa who now sits third on the ladder. Peru is fourth and heading to the bottom of the classifications.


Brazil finally shrugged off Iran in the third period to go on to victory. Comparing the two halves and it is a completely different match with 6-5 at halftime and 11-4 in the second half. Iran was in attendance big time in the first half, drawing level at one, two and three before trailing 4-3 at the first buzzer.

Frederico Carsalade scored either side of the break — for his third — to have the match at 5-3 before Iran came back with consecutive goals two minutes apart. However, Carsalade gave Brazil the edge with a strike from centre forward.

Brazil struggled to break the shackles of Iran, even in the third period as Iran narrowed to 7-6 and 8-7, despite Carsalade nailing his fifth from seven attempts. The pressure was starting to take its toll as Brazil snuck in three more, with Carsalade pouncing on a bad pass by the Iranian goalkeeper to score his sixth goal on counter.

Iran scored first in the fourth with Brazil responding through Oliviera and — you guessed it — two Carsalade goals on counter for a personal tally of eight. He left the last three goals to team-mates as Ali Abolghasemi chimed in with Iran’s ninth goal.

Match Heroes
Carsalade (pictured) was beaming when he accepted his award and now has 15 goals for the week. There were three heroes for Iran with Alireza Mehrikohneshahri and Seyederfan Sadrnia scoring twice and goalkeeper Amirata Khazaei dragging down 14 balls.

Turning Point
The second half as Iran tired and allowed the faster Brazilians slip away on counter.

Stats Don’t Lie
Brazil loved the free-flowing game style, but managed just five from 18 on extra-man attack and defended 12 from 14. It scored both penalty attempts while Iran converted its one. Brazil shot more at 36-30.

Bottom Line
Brazil is top of the group and Iran second with Brazil in the box seat for a crack at 13th classification.

Progress Points (Classification 13-19)

Group G: Germany 3, Argentina 3, New Zealand 0.

Group H: Brazil 6, Iran 3, South Africa 3, Peru 0.

Thursday Schedule

Classification 13-19

09:00, Germany v Argentina

10:30, South Africa v Iran

12:00, Peru v Brazil


15:00, Spain v Greece

16:30, Hungary v Italy

18:00, Montenegro v USA

19:30, Serbia v Croatia