Tens of thousands of spectators could see high standard water polo matches in Hajós Alfréd Swimming Complex between 16 and 29 July at the 17th FINA World Championships. The men’s and women’s water polo tournament seeing Croatian and American victory carried numerous interesting, exciting, sometimes unexpected moments. Here is a selection of some of them.
Canada stole a point from Montenegro
The first meet up of men’s Group A brought about the surprising 8-8 tie of Canada and Montenegro. It was expected that Montenegro had better chances to win, yet the last quarter was claimed by Canada 4-2. Interestingly enough, following this match Canada did not manage to continue the streak of success, they went down against Kazakhstan 10-9 and tied with Brazil 6-6.
Photos: Máté Balogh/Bp2017
In spite of the two ties and the one-score margin loss they finished in the last place within their group. Brazil and for the first time in its history, Kazakhstan went on to the quarterfinals.
Hungarian fans cheering on team Australia
In the second round of men’s Group B Hungary tied with Italy 9-9, therefore the last round determined the winner of the group. Hungary defeated France confidently, then the question was the margin of the match by Italy and Australia. Well, Australians could enjoy the cheering of almost 6000 Hungarian spectators. In the end Italy won by an 8-goal margin, Hungary finished first in the group.
After the match Australian head coach, Elvis Fatovic said „This was the greatest crowd roaring on my team in the history of Margaret Island. It was fantastic.”
Japan defeats the US by 8 goals, 7 goals scored by Adachi
In the second meet up of Group D team Japan- famous for its unpleasant, fast playing style - beat team USA – featuring several freshmen- led by Dejan Udovicic by an 8-goal margin 15-7. Japanese player of number 2, Seiya Adachi scored 7 goals, Japan beat the US for the first time. For the record, Adachi was the second most successful goal scorer (having scored 16 goals), thanks to his amazing performance.
„I aimed at showing my talents at an international tournament. I believe I succeeded in doing so” – he told, after the match they lost against Greece. He added that he would be playing in Europe in the next season.
Crowded grandstands– South Africa getting emotional
The matches by Brazil-South African and Japan-Kazakhstan for 13th-16th places were held in the morning, on 22 July. These were considered the 4 weakest teams of the World Championships, yet there were about 3500 spectators watching the matches from the grandstands. „This could not happen anywhere else” – this was the general opinion throughout almost the entire tournament. What is more, concerning this day one could not say the audience attended morning matches only to arrive in time for the afternoon matches, since when purchasing tickets, it was known already that the morning programme would feature clashes of 4th placed teams’ in the groups.
It was not only the Hungarian national team which attracted high interest during the tournament, but all 32 teams. „This World Championships edition is a lifetime experience for me. The organisation, the pool, the audience are simply amazing” – said South African team member Nicola Barrett all smiles and touched, after the morning matches.
Monika Eggens scores 5 goals against the Hungarian team, Canada defeats hosting team in the quarterfinal
Hosting team of the World Championships started off the quarterfinal with great hopes, yet no doubt, as a result of the most disadvantageous performance in the history of the current squad and crew they went down against Canada 6-4 thus they continued to play for the 5th-8th places only.
Monika Eggens was unstoppable, she scored 5 goals thus World League silver medallist team Canada made it to the top 4 (in the end they were defeated by Spain and Russia hence finishing 4th).
Jonathan Hooper – a field player- defends a 5m penalty shot in the goal
In the last minute of the Russia-United States match, 45 seconds before the end Ben Hallock made a foul during a Russian action, resulting in a penalty for the European team. The American bench was rewarded with a red card that led to the exclusion of the goalkeeper, Baron McQuin. Dejan Udovicic, Americans' head coach had to send a field player to the goalie post. Jonathan Masashi Hooper was assigned to the position.
The player defended the penalty shot by Daniil Merkulov brilliantly. „I’m really good at figuring out our opponents’ intentions, so our head coach asked me to stand in as the goalkeeper for the penalty. Sometimes these things work out, sometimes not. Today it went well, which I’m truly delighted about.”
Americans won the match 14-11, yet it was not enough to go on so they ended up in the 13th place.
Hungary’s men’s national team in the finals
The Hungarian national team finished the tournament in Kazan with disappointing results, as they finished only 6th. Then their performance in the Olympics did not meet expectations (they finished 5th), therefore advancing to the semi-finals this time was considered as a great achievement by the team as well as the general public.
After 2013 the team could play for a medal again. In a highly emotional, nail-biting clash with the Greeks team Hungary could go on to the final. Thanks to the excellent performance of Márton Vámos, Viktor Nagy, Norbert Hosnyánszky, led by Dénes Varga the national team played brilliantly, however, they could not repeat it in the final.
The winner of the European Championships hosted by Budapest, the Kazan World Championships, the European Championships staged in Belgrade, Rio Olympics, three World League and a World Cup. This is team Serbia which was considered a top favourite at the World Championships in Budapest, as well. It has been a long time since the team of Dejan Savic was last defeated, yet it was the case in the semi-final of the 17th FINA World Championships.
Croatia beat the title holder 12-11 and went on to the final. Although in Kazan they could reach up to the second place only, Budapest saw their victory this time.
Spinning goals Hungarian style
Norbert Hosnyánszky, Olympic champion of the Hungarian national team is famous for his spinning goals and he demonstrated this special tool of his in the semi-final against Greece at the World Championships. „It is not something carefully planned, but much more spontaneous. This time it worked well, I am happy, the team is happy, fans are happy, everyone is happy. I don’t practice it too much, because that would damage my shoulders” –Norbert Hosnyánszky said about the goal.
Captain of the women’s national team Rita Keszthelyi scored a similarly brilliant spinning goal against the Japanese in the group stage and led the team to victory (20-11).
7000 people singing "Happy birthday"
Head coach of the men’s team, Tamás Märcz turned 42 on 17 July. The Hungarian team played its first match against Australia that day.
After defeating Australia 13-3 the entire crowd sang happy birthday to celebrate the head coach.