Match Reports

Classification 1-2


Pictures courtesy of Iosif Vagnar/World Aquatics

It took 16 long years for Hungary to ascend the top of the victory dais, but it was worth it. What a tremendous final with a powerful and aggressive showing by the Hungarians almost to annihilate the reigning champion Serbians.

The match was straight forward in a sense with Hungary going 3-1 and Serbia levelling at three by the first break. Hungary scored first and Serbia replied midway through the second quarter with Luka Gladovic’s goal the last to be recorded by the Serbs for a stupendous 17 minutes. Hungary had the defence and, in the meantime, stretched the lead to 5-4 at halftime and 8-4 at the final break.

It became 11-4 as the writing was on the wall with two minutes remaining. With two Viktor Urosevic goals and one from Bogdan Brescanski, Serbia closed the final two minutes 3-1, but it was too little, too late.

For a world final to have one team not score for what is more than two quarters is just amazing and a tribute to the Hungarians who started the tournament with a 17-15 penalty shootout win, also over the Serbs. It cemented their place in history and brings them level on three titles with the likes of Greece, Italy, Serbia and Spain.

For five Hungarians it was extra special as they also won the World Aquatics men’s U18 gold medal last year — goalkeeper Viktor Gyapjas, Marcell Szecsi, Akos Nagy, Vince Varga and Peter Szalai.

For Serbia it will mean a lot of soul searching to find out what went wrong. However, to maintain such an excellent run in medals at this event is enormous, now having eight as a single nation.

Match Heroes
Hungarian senior national team player Vince Vigvari had two penalty goals in his triple, but his excellent play all tournament made him a standout. Goalkeeper Gyapjas made nine saves and could have easily been the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Petar Stanic scored three for Serbia.

Turning Point
That wide chasm of 17 minutes without a goal by Serbia.

Stats Don’t Lie
Serbia had the better of the shots with 30 shots to 29; scored four from 12 on extra-man attack to Hungary’s four from 10 while Hungary converted both penalty attempts.

Bottom Line
Hungary now has three titles, four silvers and four bronzes in the bank. Serbia has three previous titles as a single nation, two as Serbia & Montenegro and one as Yugoslavia.

Classification 3-4


USA made it 2-0 against Greece in this tournament, having won the group encounter 13-10 on the opening day. This match was far easier as Greece was knocking on the door last Saturday, but today the match was virtually won by three-quarter time. The celebrations will be long and hard after being able to return home with the first medal at this level.

USA was 2-0 up and turned 2-1 into a 4-1 first-quarter break. It was 2-1 in the second quarter with Greece winning the third 2-1, even with a missed penalty attempt.

Ryder Dodd and Peter Castillo scored a goal each on extra-man attack for 9-4 with Ryder Dodd hitting the left upright with his penalty attempt six minutes from time. Never mind, USA had the match in the bag despite two Greek goals with less than five minutes remaining. Seventeen-year-old Ben Leichty, named player of the match, rifled in his third goal at 3:32 and Grant Watson sealed the match with a shot from deep left at 2:04.

Match Heroes
Leichty, with his wicked left-handers. Fellow 17-year-old Ryder Dodd finished with two goals to top his team’s scoring with 22 goals. Older brother Chase Dodd scored one of the goals of the tournament at centre forward. West Temkin (above), who made 12 saves, was named goalkeeper of the tournament. Semir Spachits and Apostolos Gregaras netted two apiece for Greece.

Turning Point
Going from 2-1 to 7-2 by midway in the third was where the match was won.

Stats Don’t Lie
USA converted five from nine on extra-man attack to Greece’s two from six. Greece had more shots at 26-24 and sent in two from three on penalty to USA’s one from two.

Bottom Line
USA knows what it is to be a losing bronze-medal finalist, last filling that position in 1989. Now it knows what it is like to win a medal. In 2021, it was seventh. Greece has three titles, with two in the last three outings, two silver and two bronzes. It was an uncharacteristic eighth in Prague.

Classification 5-6


Spain beat Italy 10-9 on day two and repeated the dose today. The nature of the match was always could Italy ever catch up after giving up six consecutive goals to Spain in the first half?

From scoring the first, Italy watched as an avalanche of goals swept into its cage. Italy stemmed the flow with a pair before halftime to turn at 6-3 in arrears.

Spain went to 7-3 and relinquished one goal more than five minutes later. The biggest news of the quarter was Samuele Boezi’s departure with a red card one second from the halftime buzzer, possibly for an alleged head butt.

Matteo Bragantini and Francesco Condemi converted extra plays for Italy to start the third period and Ignasi Bargello did the same for Spain. Condemi and Bargallo traded goals for 9-7 with Luca Provenziano scoring from the left at 1:29. There was still time for Italy. However, Bargallo did what he does best and drilled from the top on extra for 10-8 at 0:52 for what was the victory and fifth place.

Match supposedly
Bargallo was sublime with four goals to lift his Otopeni total to 20. Condemi, who will now eye the senior World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, scored three for Italy.

Turning Point
From one down to 6-1 ahead. It was enough to help win the match.

Stats Don’t Lie
It was on extra-man attack where Spain excelled with six goals from 12 attempts. Italy managed four from 13. Spain netted both penalty attempts to Italy’s one and was more clinical with  its shooting, needing just 21 shots to 28.

Bottom Line
Spain is a triple champion with two silvers and a bronze. It was sixth at the last edition. Italy has three titles, four silvers and two bronzes and was the beaten silver medallist in 2021.

Classification 7-8


Montenegro asserted its authority over Croatia with a second victory in Otopeni. In the rounds it was 14-12 and today 12-9, so a slight improvement. However, Montenegro opened the door for Croatia in the final two minutes, allowing three goals through, so the difference in the matches was huge.

Montenegro started with two Balsa Vuckovic goals and then threw in another pair for 4-1, closing the first quarter 5-2 ahead. In the second quarter it was even, turning at 7-4. This quickly became 9-4 and 10-5 by the final break.

In a little more than three minutes, Montenegro had shot out to 12-6 and the result was beyond question. Igor Hinic’s team was not finished, however, firing in the last three goals to keep up appearances.

Match Heroes
Vuckovic claimed the match prize with his three goals by 4-1 with two lob shots. National senior player Marko Mrsic scored a penalty goal to bring up 18 for the week. Four Croatians scored two each — Toni Mozara, Vlaho Pavlic, Hrvoje Zvono and Robert Stojanac.

Turning Point
Basically scoring pairs of goals four times in reply to Croatian goals. It was steady, but dangerous.

Stats Don’t Lie
Montenegro outshot Croatia 28-25, converted three from nine on extra-man attack and conceded two from five. Croatia scored the only penalty goal.

Bottom Line

Montenegro is a bronze medallist (2021) as a single country, but won two gold medals as Serbia & Montenegro and another as part of Yugoslavia. Croatia is a dual champion and six-time finalist with one bronze medal and today’s placing is down from second in 2021.

Classification 9-10

JAPAN 17 NETHERLANDS 16 in sudden-death penalty shootout (FT: 10-10. Pens: 7-6)

Just like the earlier match where Australia had a nine-goal turnaround, Japan did the same to Netherlands. It lost 18-12 on day four and today won the penalty shootout — so seven goals differential. The match was tied nine times with the score 1-1 at the quarter break, 4-3 to Netherlands at halftime and 7-6 to Japan at the final break.

Super shooter Daichi Ogihara, who contested last year’s World Aquatic Championships in Budapest as the youngest player on the team, came alive in the second half with three goals in the third and another in the fourth to lift his tally to an incredible 32 goals.

Japan had an 8-6 advantage and then the Dutch sent in three straight to lead 9-8. Koyo Jo and Ogihara, on penalty, took Japan 10-9 as it became too hot in the kitchen for the Dutch coach, Branko Mitrovic, who was red carded. The Dutch had just lost the challenge for the penalty foul. Kenai Heitink secured the equaliser at 0:52 and it was enough to go to a shootout.

Japan shot first and second rotation Shuma Fukuda did what several people had done before with the new Mikasa ball and let it slip out of the hand before the shot. The next four shots went in and Mart van der Weijden had his attempt blocked by Kotaro Yusuda. It reached 14-14 at the end of the rotation and went to sudden death with five goals eventuating. Marnick Snel had his shot rejected by Yusuda and Japan had the victory.

Match Heroes
Yusuda with his two penalty-shootout saves, although Ogihara (above), with six goals and 34 for the tournament, was exceptional. Jens Wijgers and Stan Mejin scored a triple each.

Turning Point
Heitink’s equaliser during a 4-2 stanza by the Dutch.

Stats Don’t Lie
Japan shot 40 to 33; landed just the one goal from six attempts on man-up attack to the Netherlands’ three from six ; and both teams scored a penalty in regulation time.

Bottom Line

Japan missed 2021 because of Covid travel restrictions after placing eighth in 2019. Netherlands’ last visit produced 14th in 2017.

Classification 11-12


Australia turned the tables on Romania with a three-goal advantage after losing to the host nation 11-5 on day five. It was a huge turnaround and a far better performance from the Aussies who slumped to the Netherlands 7-2 on Friday.

On Tuesday, the Aussies trailed 3-0 at the quarter while today it was a 4-3 advantage, coming back from 2-1 and 3-2 behind. The margin went to two with Romania striking back with a pair at 3-2 for 5-5. David Belenyesi and Andrei Tepelus both scored their second goals.

The tide turned Australia’s way with four unanswered goals from four separate players, including a 10m bomb from left-hander Daniel Munk with his eighth goal of the tournament. It was 8-5 at halftime and 9-5 with that fourth goal, from Andrej Grgurevic, his 11th in total. Goals were traded to the final break with Monk scoring the most acute goal of the week from deep right and wide with his shoulder almost touching the lane rope.

With the match at 11-7, Australia challenged a penalty call against it and it was adjudged as ball under instead. At 4:20, Romanian star David Neamtu scored on extra-man attack, but it proved to be the final goal and Australia had clinched 11th position.

Match Heroes
Tepelus with his three goals for Romania and goalkeeper David Dumitru with nine saves. It was a team effort from Australia with seven scorers, senior international Marcus Berehulak, Monk, Grgurevic and Tristan Glanznig scoring twice each.

Turning Point
The four Aussie goals to break the 5-5 impasse.

Stats Don’t Lie
Australia shot 36 to 29 and converted two from six on extra-man attack to Romania’s excellent seven from 13. In a rarity, there were no penalty fouls. In essence, Australia scored an amazing nine action goals.

Bottom Line
Australia is a previous silver medallist and last competed in 2019, finishing 11th, so no advancement here. Romania last competed at this level in 1993 in Cairo when it finished sixth.

Classification 13-14

GERMANY 10 BRAZIL 8 in penalty shootout (FT: 7-7. Pens: 3-1)

Germany emerged from a shootout thanks to goalkeeper Max Spittank who made an incredible three saves to go with the 11 he had already secured during the four quarters. It was the bonus that Germany required to fend off Brazil who had aided the German cause with a violence foul from its top shooter two minutes from the final break.

Germany was 3-1 up at the first break and 5-2 at halftime. Brazil scored through Paulo Oliviera and Frederico Carsalade to narrow it to 5-4 before the latter was caught out doing something under water on centre defence and was adjudged to have committed a violence foul, gifting Germany a penalty goal and four minutes with an extra man.

Aleks Sekulic converted the penalty and it was 6-5, however, 16-year-old Lucas Wulfhorst scored for Brazil and Tobias Bauer replied, needing a VAR decision to prove it crossed the line.

Oliviera opened the final quarter for Brazil, meaning the four minutes of freedom for German did not eventuate with the score 2-2 in this period. Both teams took a timeout and Germany could not score. It was Wulfhorst who scampered up the pool on counter to score with 26 seconds remaining for 7-7 and what proved to be the final result.

In the penalty shootout, Spittank reigned supreme, stopping the first, third and fourth Brazilian shots. With victory in sight, Robin Rehm had his shot blocked; Brazil missed and Philip Portisch signed off with the winner for 10-8.

Match Heroes
Spittank (above), with those three penalty saves and 14 for the match was the absolute hero while four of his team-mates scored a double. For Brazil, Carsalade and Oliviera scored three goals and Diogo Checchinato dragged down a tournament-best 15 shots.

Turning Point
Wulfhorst’s counter-attack goal to send the match to penalties.

Stats Don’t Lie
Germany blasted in 32 shots to 25, converted one from five on extra-man attack to Brazil’s one from seven and Germany scored one and Brazil two from the penalty line during regular play.

Bottom Line
These two teams played for ninth two years ago with Germany finishing on top by a massive 10 goals. West Germany was a bronze medallist back in 1989 when it beat USA.

Classification 15-16


Iran was never headed and Argentina only levelled at one, although it came to within one three times in the final quarter. Iran has an all-round team, scoring everywhere and proved this right throughout the tournament.

Iran led 3-1 at the quarter and 8-5 by halftime. The third quarter produced just the one goal to Argentina and the last was even at three. Therefore, Argentina won the second half 4-3.

There was a red card at 1:31 in the second period when Argentina’s second-best goal scorer,  Ignacio Lucero, was sent packing, possibly for head contact. Other players stepped up in his absence and Mateo Giri, did what he does best — scoring goals — netting three for a tournament tally of 18.

Match Heroes
Farbod Behzadsabouri, who scored twice in the first quarter, grabbed a third in the second as Iran built a 6-3 buffer. He was named best in pool. Tobias Deluca and Giri scored three each for Argentina.

Turning Point
Iran led from start to finish, although a 4-1 effort by Argentina in the middle sector of the match threatened to do some damage.

Stats Don’t Lie
Iran converted seven from 14 on extra-man attack and Argentina three from six. Shots were 26-25 in Argentina’s favour and each team scored a penalty goal.

Bottom Line
Argentina was 13th in Prague two years ago and Iran was 16th in Belgrade 2017.

Final Classifications

  1. Hungary
  2. Serbia
  3. United States of America
  4. Greece
  5. Spain
  6. Italy
  7. Croatia
  8. Montenegro
  9. Japan
  10. Netherlands
  11. Australia
  12. Romania
  13. Germany
  14. Brazil
  15. Iran
  16. Argentina
  17. New Zealand
  18. South Africa
  19. Peru


Best Coach: Robert Kovacs (HUN)

Most Valuable Player: Vasilije Martinovic (SRB)

Best Goalkeeper: West Temkin (USA)

Highest Goal Scorer: Daichi Ogihara (JPN) 34.

Media All Star Team

West Temkin (USA)
Field Players:
Ryder Dodd (USA)
Vasilije Martinovic (SRB)
Akos Nagy (HUN)
Marko Mrsic (MNE)
Daichi Ogihara (JPN)
Vince Vigvari (HUN)

Division II Highly Commended

Max Spittank (GER)
Field Players:
Marcus Berehulak (AUS)
Frederico Carsalade (BRA)
Alireza Mehrikoshneshahri (IRI)
David Neamtu (ROU)
Mateo Giri (ARG)
Mart Van der Weijden (NED)