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16th FINA World Championships

July 24 - August 9, 2015
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International Men's Water Polo Tournament: Day 1 results

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12.06.2015, 21:46 Sport
The International Men’s Water Polo Tournament kicked off in Kazan. Four national teams (Russia, China, Spain, Georgia) will compete for medals in the Burevestnuk Swimming Pool. The tournament will be played in a round robin format.

The meet between Team China and Team Spain opened the first day of the tournament. For water polo experts, the Asian squad remained a mystery because for obvious reasons the Chinese athletes do not participate in European championships and do not compete with teams from Europe that often. Spain is a different story. The Spanish squad was dubbed the favourites ahead of the tournament despite the loss of some players in the roster.

Spain proved its status as the tournament’s favourites in the opening quarter when Xavi Garcia executed a shot from close range to beat a Chinese goalkeeper to the net. Garcia’s teammate, Roger Tahull added to the team’s lead by scoring the second goal in the beginning of the second quarter. But pretty soon the opponents managed to beat the Spanish defense and score their first goal thanks to Li Li’s precise penalty shot. By doing so the Chinese team only put Spain in a fighting mood. Before the second quarter ended, the European squad left no room for intrigue after crushing their opponents, 5-1.

In the second half of the match, the Spanish team stood its ground and pushed the game through to its predictable conclusion. By the end of the meet, the Europeans wore themselves out allowing Team China to score several goals to shorten the distance for a tolerable 11-7 in favour of the Spanish squad.

Spain – China – 11-7 (1-0, 4-1, 3-2, 3-4)

Goals: Xavi Garcia (1-0), Roger Tahull (2-0), Li Li – from a penalty spot (2-1), Blai Mallarach (3-1), Fran Fernandez (4-1), Fran Fernandez – from a penalty spot (5-1), Blai Mallarach (6-1), Victor Gutierrez (7-1), Liang Nianxiang (7-2), Hu Zhangxin (7-3), Sergi Nora – from a penalty spot (8-3), Sergi Nora (9-3), Hu Zhangxin (9-4), Blai Mallarach – from a penalty spot (10-4), Sha Shi (10-5), Gu Liang (10-6), Sergi Nora (11-6), Lu Wenhui (11-7).

“I’m happy with the outcome. Victory on the opening day makes us optimistic about the future and puts us in a good state of mind before crucial matches. It’s true, we got a little bit tired in the final quarter and as a result we conceded goals via counterattacks but we still have time to correct out mistakes. The main thing for now is that we won,” concluded the head coach of the Spanish national team, Ángel Luis Andreo Gabán.

On the second meet of the opening day, Team Russia faced off the Georgian team. The guest team took the lead twice early in the match but both times Ivan Nagaev evened the score. Finally, in the second quarter Albert Zinatullin put his team ahead of the opponents with a stunning shot. Before the long break the lead was increased further, 6-3.  

Three more unanswered goals scored by the hosts in the third quarter seemed to unsettle the Georgian team and allowed Erkin Shagaev’s squad to take a provisional lead. In the remaining time the guest team put up some real fight but unfortunately had no time or strength left to change the outcome of the match, 13-6.

Russia – Georgia – 13-6 (2-2, 4-1, 3-0, 4-3)

Goals: Damir Crepulia (0-1), Ivan Nagaev (1-1), George Khveteliani (1-2), Ivan Nagaev (2-2), Albert Zinatullin (3-2), Sergey Lisunov (4-2), Mikhael Bagaturia (4-3), Vladislav Timakov (5-3), Sergey Lisunov (6-3), Artem Ashaev – from a penalty spot (7-3), Konstantin Stepanyuk  (8-3), Igor Bychkov (9-3), Sergey Lisunov (10-3), Sergey Luisunov (11-3), Beka Kvataradze (11-4), Artem Odintsov (12-4), Mikhael Bagaturia (12-5), Damir Crepulia (12-6), Vladislav Timakov (13-6). 

“In comparison with the European Championships, we performed better today. But it must be borne in mind that almost 40% of our roster was substituted. We have a new strong goalie, we have a backbone now and it has become considerably easier to play. Although right now we play under stress. The team has just returned from a training camp in Bulgaria and continues gearing up for the domestic FINA World Championships. Do we have enough competition practice? No, we don’t. There is a lot more to achieve. Our mission? As always our mission is to place first. I think that everything will become clear on the closing day, during the match against Spain. They are very strong. The World Championships drawing? We are okay with the fact that we were drawn in the ‘group of death’ although the hosts could have been been paired with a weaker group (Smiles). There is nothing to complain about – it’s just a blind draw. We will do our best, yet I believe only few people expect us to win. But we will strain every sinew,” said the offensive player of the Russian national team, Konstantin Stepanyuk.

Press Office of Organising Committee for 16th FINA World Championships