In day-two action, Slovenia was the unluckiest team, losing a second penalty shootout, this time to South Africa in a harrowing 21-shot showcase after the match was locked at 10-10.

Image Source: South Africa v Slovenia/Timmy Cutugno/World Aquatics

Other close encounters included USA’s 7-6 win over Netherlands in Group D and Romania’s 12-11 comeback victory over host Malta in Group H.

Group A

PERU 7 CHINA 17 (2-3, 0-5, 2-4, 3-5)

What a difference a 5-0 quarter makes to a match! The first quarter gave heart to China for a first win and the second-period shutout proved too much for Peru to come back from. There was plenty of enthusiasm but China defended well, restricting the Peruvian shooting to just 16 shots compared to China’s 25. The extra-man count was even with Peru garnering three from five and China three from six. Juan Garay was the match’s top scorer, keeping Peru in the hunt. Chengyi Qiu and Yiheng Yang scored three apiece. Yang took his two-match tally to an incredible 11.

BRAZIL 5 SERBIA 15 (1-2, 1-1, 1-6, 2-6)
Serbia drew away from Brazil in the second half, as the quarter scores show. It was a heavy match with plenty of kick-outs and teams getting to work their extra-man plays constantly. Serbia came out the better with a towering eight from nine and Brazil did well with four from eight. The fact that Brazil had trouble finding gaps in the defence was testament to Serbia’s powerful pressure and tight defensive tactics. Brazil threw in 15 shots, almost half of what Serbia rained on the Brazilian goal. Uros Muncan did the most damage with four Serbian goals and Niklas Capellano netted twice for Brazil.

Group B

CZECHIA 7 BULGARIA 12 (1-1, 1-4, 2-2, 3-5)

Bulgaria gained a second victory in a very tight encounter. Five goals seems an easy win. However, the last three goals went Bulgaria’s way after Czechia drew with two inside the final minute with a long-range shot. Bulgaria snared a penalty foul and converted; Czechia took a timeout and lost the ball, which was swiftly fired into the Czechia goal at 0:33 and Bulgaria regained the ball and scored from point blank for 12-7 with 17 seconds to spare. It was an amazing finish to what was a relatively pedestrian match. On extra-man attack, Czechia converted two from five and Bulgaria three from five. Bulgaria had one more shot than Czechia. Nathan Bauer top-scored for Czechia with four goals and Vladimir Stankov netted three for Bulgaria.

ZIMBABWE 4 SPAIN 27 (1-4, 1-8, 2-8, 0-7)

Spain ran riot over Zimbabwe and appears set to win the group. Zimbabwe, to its credit, scored in three of the quarters and can be proud of the effort against such a top-flight team. Welcome to the big league. Pedro Diaz blasted in five goals for Spain and Tapfuma Taundi made two for Zimbabwe. On extra, where there are few chances with this blowout score, Spain nailed all three and Zimbabwe gained one from two. In overall shooting, Spain drilled 33 to 15.

Group C

GERMANY 12 SINGAPORE 9 (2-2, 4-3, 3-2, 3-2)

Germany gained its first victory with a pleasing victory over Singapore, a first-day victor. Singapore was 2-0 up, but Germany levelled by quarter time, went 2-4 down in the second quarter, levelling at four and going 5-4 up. Singapore was dogged and levelled again only for Germany to go to halftime at 6-5. This became 7-5, 8-6 and 9-7 going into the final quarter.  Singapore pulled it back to 9-8 behind with Germany collecting the goals that counted for 12-9 with a minute to spare. Tobias Scherrieble, Dimitrij Vasilev and Erik Henning all scored three goals for Germany, as did Singapore’s Eamon New. In the extra-man count, Germany went two from four and Singapore three from six. Germany had the better of the shooting count with 22 to 16.

POLAND 3 HUNGARY 18 (1-3, 1-6, 0-7, 1-2)

Hungary made a second victory, snuffing any chance Poland had of grabbing a fluke win. Hungary is a form country, producing star players and this bunch is assured of making the medal round, surely. A relatively slow start merged into two frantic periods where Poland was rattled before slowing down in the final six minutes. Hungary proved its dominance in extra-man attack with eight from 11 and denied Poland in six of its seven chances. In overall shooting, Hungary had 34 attempts to 18. Botond Gedra scored five goals to give him eight from two matches and Benedek Rabb scored three.


ISRAEL 11 NEW ZEALAND 7 (2-2, 4-2, 3-1, 2-2)

Israel bounced back from its seven-goal loss on day one to USA to grab a solid victory over New Zealand. The Kiwis looked good in the second quarter and had the lead at 4-2 after being 2-0 down. Three unanswered goals had Israel in the box seat at 6-4 by halftime. Israel pushed that to 9-5 halfway through the third and no more goals came until the final break. In the fourth, Israel went to a five-goal lead on the first attack. Goals were traded for 11-6 and New Zealand came up with a centre-forward shunt at 0:41 to close all scoring. New Zealand had four more shots than Israel, but Israel’s extra-man count of five from seven and denying the Kiwis three from five, proved crucial. Yuval Gal-on netted five goals (four on Tuesday) for Israel and New Zealand pair Aidan Waters and Zavier Tuhuru netted twice.


A powerful third period launched USA to victory over Netherlands, leapfrogging from one down at the halftime break to two ahead by the final interval. USA levelled and went ahead in quick succession early in the third period before Kimi Christ converted extra for Netherlands to level at five. Two action goals — one from two metres — had USA firmly ahead by the break. USA gifted a penalty at 1:41 in the fourth to being Netherlands to one down. It was Christ who threw the final dice for the Dutch after a timeout, hitting the post, giving USA breathing space with a timeout and ultimately victory. Christ finished with three, as did USA’s Kai Kaneka. On extra, Netherlands went one from two and shut out USA’s three attempts. USA’s defence limited the Dutch to 16 shots while sending in 23 of its own.


MEXICO 4 GEORGIA 14 (2-3, 0-3, 2-3, 0-5)

Georgia is heading for a clash with Italy for group success after gaining a second win, this time downing Mexico in a cohesive performance that finished in a flourish. Georgia beat Ukraine 10-8 on day one and is assured of advancing to the higher stages of the tournament. Saba Azarashvili and Luka Rubashvili both scored three for Georgia and Saul Hernandez found the net twice for Mexico, which now has two losses. Both teams struggled on extra-man attack with Georgia getting one from three and Mexico two from six. Georia had the better of the scoring opportunities with 24 to 17.

UKRAINE 3 ITALY 18 (2-5, 0-5, 1-4, 0-4)

Italy is the preferred winner of the group and a second large haul — after day one’s  25-5 disposal of Mexico — sees it warming nicely for the next stage. Two shut-out quarters made it tough for the Ukrainians, who only had 15 chances to score compared to Italy’s 26. On extra man, Italy made both its chances and defended three from four. Francesco Maffei fired in six goals to bring his tally to 10 and Antonio Chianese netted three.  


Image Source: South Africa v Slovenia/Timmy Cutugno/World Aquatics

SOUTH AFRICA 22 SLOVENIA 21 in sudden death penalty shootout. FT: 10-10. Pens: 12-11 (3-1, 0-3, 4-3, 3-3. Pens 12-11)

For the second day in a row, Slovenia was cruelly bettered in a penalty shootout, losing 17-15 to Egypt on Tuesday, today South Africa emerged atop in a dramatic encounter, ruining Slovenia’s chances of making the top tier, considering Montenegro is its final group opponent on Thursday. South Africa started strongly and then allowed Slovenia back into the match, taking a 4-3 advantage at halftime. South turned the tables in the third period for 7-7. South Africa went to 9-7 by 3:41. Slovenia went to a timeout, gained an ejection and converted for 9-8. Slovenia gifted a penalty and it became 10-8 at 2:13, seemingly a comfortable victory. Alas for South Africa, Slovenia scored twice on extra with Marcel Lipnik making good with the 10-10 score — his sixth — just three seconds from fulltime, forcing the shootout. Slovenia missed the first shot and at the end of the rotation, Alex Barrett missed, forcing sudden death. Eight shots were traded then both teams failed to score, Barrett missing again. Eight more shots were traded and then David Beric missed and Barrett made amends for 22-21. Matthew Fenn slotted four — to go with his hat-trick on Tuesday — and Thomas Francke three for South Africa. Lipnik has 11 goals from two matches. On extra, Slovenia went a commendable six from eight and South Africa three from seven. South Africa made 26 attempts to Slovenia’s 20.

Image Source: Egypt v Montenegro/Timmy Cutugno/World Aquatics

EGYPT 4 MONTENEGRO 12 (1-3, 1-1, 1-4, 1-4)

Montenegro brought up its second victory and becomes the first group winner as there were two penalty shootouts in the group and the other three teams are all locked on two points. Egypt offered resistance in the first half before Montenegro pulled away with solid efforts in each of the next two quarters. Egypt worked hardest on extra-man attack, converting four from seven —thus no action goals — while Montenegro has some work to do as it was shut out three times by Egypt. Yassin Mohamed Wael Elnemr headed a long list of double scorers, although the only one from Egypt. Montenegro’s scorers were Paule Dabic, Stefan Vranes, Danilo Roganovic, Andrej Durutovic and Dimitrije Milic.


TURKIYE 12 CANADA 7 (3-1, 3-3, 3-1, 3-2)

Turkiye collected its first win, never being headed by Canada. When Canada levelled at one, it was to be the closest it came to winning. Turkiye had two four-goal margins in the third period and Canada came back to within three early in the fourth before Turkiye pulled away. Batur Yildiz smashed in six goals and Eymen Altay four for Turkiye. Ivan Khrantsov sent in four Canadian goals — one better than his Tuesday haul. Canada converted the only extra-man goal from three attempts and Turkiye missed its sole opportunity.

AUSTRALIA 8 CROATIA 11 (4-4, 2-3, 1-2, 1-2)

It may have been three goals by the final whistle, but at one stage it was 7-7 and then in the final period 8-9 before Croatia scored just inside two minutes and then with a penalty goal 17 seconds from time. It was a spirited match with the Aussies going 2-0 up and then trailed 3-2 before levelling at three and four by quarter time. Croatia went 7-4 up and two Callum Pugh strikes had the Aussie back in the match by halftime. The third period was scoreless for three and a half minutes before Savo Todic levelled at seven. From there on, Croatia had the better of the match. Croatia’s Nardo Dragas scored four goals to go with the five from day one, Joining Pugh and Tadic on two goals for the Aussies was Lachlan Davies. Australia gained four from seven on extra-man attack, but Croatia was more efficient at four from five. Australia netted one penalty goal and Croatia two, proving to be the edge. It was Croatia’s second win and first loss for Australia.


GREECE 12 KAZAKHSTAN 7 (3-4, 5-1, 4-0, 0-2)

Greece showed spurts of brilliance as it swept aside another group hopeful. Greece managed to find spots and get the ball to the loose man who had time to score. The match was tied and one, two, three and four with Kazakhstan having the 4-3 advantage. However, Greece took control, twice going three up in the second quarter. By keeping Kazakhstan scoreless in the third quarter, the match was safely sewn up. Kazakhstan won the last quarter with two action goals but by then Greece was easily home. Dimitrios Sarros (GRE) and Ramazan Abilkassym (KAZ) both scored three goals. On extra, Greece was like dynamite, converting six from nine and gifting just one ejection, which Kazakhstan could not convert.

Image Source: Malta v Romania/Timmy Cutugno/World Aquatics

MALTA 11 ROMANIA 12 (2-2, 0-4, 4-2, 5-4)

The 4-0 second quarter was where this match was won and lost. Malta could not provide the fervent home crowd a follow-up victory after downing Kazakhstan by 10 goals the night before. By shutting Malta out in the second quarter, Romania set the tone for the final two periods. Malta brought the score back to two down at 6-4 two minutes into the third period, let the match slip to 8-4 and brought it back to two heading into the last stanza. That became a morale-boosting 8-7 when Shailon Cutajar scored on action, repeating the dose for 8-8 with a penalty strike at 4:41. Goals were traded for 9-9, Malta using a timeout ploy and Alexander Paladiciuc-Rusu netting Romania’s goal. Then the unthinkable, as Cutajar nailed extra-man attack for the 10-9 lead. Romania went to a timeout and scored on extra for 10-10 with Paladiciuc-Rusu the scorer. He then converted extra and Cutajar responded for 11-11 at 1:38. At 1:07, Paladiciuc-Rusu converted a penalty for 12-11. Malta took a timeout but had consecutive shots blocked and Romania was the winner. Paladiciuc-Rusu finished with six goals for Romania and Cutajar with five for Malta. Malta buried five from nine on extra and Romania three from six.

Progress Points

Group A: Serbia 6, Brazil 3, China 3, Peru 0.
Group B: Spain 6, Bulgaria 6, Czechia 0, Zimbabwe 0.
Group C: Hungary 6, Germany 3, Singapore 3, Poland 0.
Group D: United States of America 6, Netherlands 3, Israel 3, New Zealand 0.
Group E: Italy 6, Georgia 6, Ukraine 0, Mexico 0.
Group F: Montenegro 6, Slovenia 2, Egypt 2, South Africa 2.
Group G: Croatia 6, Australia 3, Turkiye 3, Canada 0
Group H: Greece 6, Romania 3, Malta 3, Kazakhstan 0.

Day 3 Schedule

Cottonera Indoor Pool
09:00, Group D, United States of America v New Zealand
10:15, Group D, Israel v Netherlands
11:30, Group C, Hungary v Singapore
12:45, Group C, Germany v Poland
15:15, Group B, Spain v Bulgaria
16:30, Group B, Czechia v Zimbabwe
17:45, Group A, Serbia v China
19:00, Group A, Peru v Brazil

Tal-Qroqq Sport Complex:
09:00, Group H, Kazakhstan v Romania
10:15, Group G, Croatia v Canada
11:30, Group G, Turkiye v Australia
12:45, Group F, Montenegro v Slovenia
15:15, Group F, South Africa v Egypt
16:30, Group E, Italy v Georgia
17:45, Group E, Mexico v Ukraine
19:00, Group H, Greece v Malta