All twelve men’s teams for London known!


The European teams of Montenegro, Romania, Spain and Greece have acquired the last four licences for the London Olympics.

There were no surprises in the matches between Montenegro and Turkey, Romania and Brazil, FYR Macedonia and Spain.

The fact that Canada had a seemingly easier preliminary group did not help the event’s host nation in the end. Having come secound after that stage, it had to face a tough opponent in Greece, who came third in the other group. The Greeks won to secure their position at the Olympic games.

Given its performance and results in the previous years, Germany’s elimination before even reaching the quarter-final stage was the least expected outcome of the Qualification tournament.

Russell McKinnon sent us his detailed report from Edmonton:

Final four berths decided for London Olympic Games

By Russell McKinnon, FINA Press Commission Member

Montenegro, Romania, Spain and Greece booked the final berths for the 2012 London Olympic Games when they clearly won their quarter-finals at the men’s Olympic Games Qualification Tournament at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here today.

It was a Good Friday for the four teams as they completed the 12-team roster for London, making sure of their berths with some emphatic performances.

Montenegro, spearheaded by captain Nikola JANOVIC (4 goals) and Aleksandar IVOVIC (5 goals), were too strong and always knew that they would book a flight to London, using the match as a showcase of the players’ individual skills. Turkey kept in the game at 5-2 and, but for a toiling effort in the third quarter that brought three goals to Montenegro’s one, had to enjoy the chance of playing one of the best teams in the world.

Romania was the next team to qualify, making up for that disappointing loss to Canada at the 2008 tournament in Oradea, Romania. The strong opening and at 7-0 before Brazil made the scoreboard, Romania set the tone of the match. Romania didn’t want any mistakes, led 9-2 at halftime and 15-3 at the final break before finishing 19-8. A flag immediately emerged from the costume of one Romanian and he waved it in delight before the team joined him in celebration. Captain Cosmin RADU finally gets his reward — a first Olympic Games.

Spain clinched position 11 in London with an 11-7 victory over the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. It was the inspirational play of captain Guillermo MOLINA, the wily veteran, who slipped five goals past the MKD keeper. Four of those goals came in the second half when most needed as the giant-killer MKD stayed focused and drew the final quarter 3-3.

It all came down to the last match of the evening for the 12th and final place and the in-form Greece proved worthy of that position with a 10-6 victory over the heavily supported Canada. For ageless captain Georgios AFROUDAKIS (35), who scored four goals, it will be a Greek record fifth Olympic Games while his younger brother Christos AFROUDAKIS and Argyris THEODOROPOULOS will make their third appearances. Goalkeeper Nikolaos DELIGIANNIS (36) dared to dream a fourth Olympics and he gained his wish. Greece only led 4-2 at the half but had a three-goal margin heading into the last. In Oradea four years ago Canada was the giant killer but in 2012 there are no such heady celebrations.

The four from Edmonton will join Serbia, winner of the 2011 FINA World League; world champion Italy, Croatia and Hungary — qualifiers from last year’s FINA World Championships in Shanghai; the United States of America as the Americas qualifier; Australia from Oceania; and Kazakhstan from the Asian qualifiers. The first qualifier was Great Britain as the host nation, taking the European berth. The last two days of competition will decide the final placings for the Olympic draw.

Match Reports:

FYR of MACEDONIA 7 SPAIN 11

Quarters: 3-2, 0-3, 1-3, 3-3

Referees: STEVEN ROTSART (USA), FILIPPO GOMEZ (ITA)

Extra Man: MKD: 2/11. ESP: 2/7

Pens: MKD: 2/2

Teams:

FORMER YUGOSLAVIAN REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA: Milosh MARINKOVIKS, Mateo CUK (1), Srgjan AKSENTIJEVIC (1), Petar IVOSEVIC (1), Ivan BASARA, Igor MILANOVIKS, Marko MARTINIC (1), Dimitar DIMOVSKI, Miroslav RANDJIKS, Vojislav CUPIC (1), Boris LETICA (1), Daniel BENIKS © (1), Dalibor PERCHINIKJ.

Head Coach: Sasho POPOVSKI.

SPAIN: Inaki AGUILAR, Mario GARCIA, Oscar CARRILLO, Balazs SZIRANYI, Guillermo MOLINA ©, (5) Marc MINGUELL, Ivan GALLEGO, Albert ESPANOL (1), Blai MALLARACH (1), Felipe PERRONE (2), Ivan PEREZ, Javier GARCIA (2), Daniel LOPEZ.

Head Coach: Rafael AGUILAR.

Spanish captain MOLINA ensured that Spain would be present in London with a stunning display, scoring five goals against the team that a day before sent Germany home from the tournament. The fairy-tale ending for MKD was not to be but heads will be held high after a good stay in Edmonton. MKD made the early running after PERRONE opened for Spain. LETICA (pushing in a rebound), AKSENTIJEVIC (counter-attack) and CUK (centre forward) inflicted pain on Spain for 3-1 just before the quarter break. PERRONE found an immaculate gap over a defender’s shoulder and into the top right from well outside nine seconds from time for 3-2. The second quarter went all the way of Spain as MKD struggled to get the defence. MALLARACH levelled and captain MOLINA drilled one from the top for the 4-3 lead. Romania used a timeout to no effect while Javier GARCIA scored from outside just as the possession hooter sounder for 5-3, the last score of the half. The story was worse for MKD in the third period when Spain responded to IVOSEVIC’s goal for 5-4 by sending in three goals courtesy of ESPANOL on extra, MOLINA from the top and Javier GARCIA on counter. The fourth period was all about how good MOLINA is as he scored twice on extra and once from nine metres for five goals. The closest MKD got was 9-5 but MOLINA took the game beyond the reach of MKD at 11-5. MKD scored two penalty goals to close the match. Spain needed to put up a good showing and, after a slow start, did just that.

FLASH QUOTES:

Guillermo MOLINA (ESP) — Captain — Five goals

On his reaction to the victory: “Today is a good day because we make the qualification for the next Olympic Games. Now we must work because to win a medal is very difficult.”

On the Olympic Qualification Tournament:

“It’s been a hard competition, maybe the most important and the most difficult I’ve played in all my years.”

Felipe PERRONE (ESP) — Two goals

On the pressure to qualify:

“Ever since 1976 in Montreal, Spain has been to every Olympic Games so we were under a lot of pressure to qualify for London. So now, we are just enjoying that moment.”

On the unique competition at the Olympics:

“The Olympic Games is a special competition…and we know that it’s completely different. When you begin the Olympic Games, it’s every team starts from zero.”

Danijel BENIKJ (MKD)

On his reaction to the loss:

“We were hoping maybe to reach the Olympics today but against Spain it was very difficult.”

On the strengths of the Spanish team:

“We started well, but when we needed to score another goal or two, they scored. Let’s say we weren’t surprised because they were more patient. We couldn’t score when we needed to.”

Quarter-final, GREECE 10 CANADA 6

Quarters: 2-1, 2-1, 4-3, 2-1 Referees: Daniel FLAHIVE (AUS), Sergio BORRELL (ESP)

Extra Man: GRE: 1/5. CAN: 2/11

Pens: GRE: ½. CAN: 1/1

Teams: GREECE: Nikolaos DELIGIANNIS, Emmanouil MYLONAKIS (1), Andreas MIRALIS, Konstantinos KOKKINAKIS, Theodoros CHATZITHEODOROU, Argyris THEODOROPOULOS (3), Christos AFROUDAKIS, Evangelos DELAKAS, Georgios AFROUDAKIS © (4), Iannis FOUNTOULIS, Konstantinos MOURIKIS (1), Matthaios VOULGARAKIS, Filippos KARAMPETSOS.

Head Coach: Dragan ANDRIC.

CANADA: Robin RANDALL, Constantin KUDABA, Oliver VIKALO, Nicolas CONSTANTIN-BICARI (2), Justin BOYD (1), Scott ROBINSON, Luka GASIC, Kevin GRAHAM (2), Aaron FELTHAM (1), John CONWAY, Devon DIGGLE, Jared McELROY, Dusan ALEKSIC.

Head Coach: Dragan JOVANOVIC.

With a packed house of more than 1000 screaming spectators, mainly cheering on Canada, this was the game of the tournament. It did not disappoint with the more powerful Greeks controlling but Canada defiant at every stage. Greece managed to slip in goals from nothing, took chances and played its usual game. Canada sometimes thought too much and on others, like FELTHAM’s extra-man goal in the third quarter, looked brilliant. Greece has the experience and it had a captain willing to take chances. Like his first goal where Georgios AFROUDAKIS worked for and received a high ball on the cross pass at two metres to score, Canada had two defenders and a goalkeeper nailed to him but he still scored. He went on to score three more, once on the left and another from his trademark movement sideways to accept another high pass and then a straight-forward centre-forward goal. Younger brother Christos AFROUDAKIS took a penalty shot in the last two minutes of the second quarter but goalkeeper RANDALL stopped it with his right hand.  However, just after GRAHAM scored cross-cage on extra for 3-2, Christos AFROUDAKIS sent in a heavily defended five-metre shot for 4-2 nine seconds from halftime. GRAHAM and CONSTANTIN-BICARI brought the game to 4-3 and 5-4 down either side of a Georgios AFROUDAKIS goal but the captain scored his third for 6-4 on a cross pass. THEODOROPOULOS scored twice either side of a FELTHAM look-away extra-man goal to close the third period at 8-5 up. MYLONAKIS made it 9-5 at the top of the fourth but at 5:05, BOYD scored. When Christos AFROUDAKIS gained his second major foul for kicking off at 4:33, Canada went to a timeout. Canada messed up the attack and several players had exchanges with FELTHAM gaining the major foul and Greece used its second timeout. No goal came from that and Canada botched a pass at the other end. On the next attack Georgios AFROUDAKIS punched the ticket for London with a big centre forward goal, his fourth of the match and 10-6 at 2:17.  Canada, playing without the guidance of head coach Dragan JOVANOVIC, who was serving a one-match suspension for a red card on day five, could not come through in the final minutes and turned the ball over three times.

FLASH QUOTES:

Dragan ANDRIC (CRO) — Greece head coach

On beating Canada for the final London Olympic berth:

“We knew we must be ready for today as the Canadians are a very young team and play well defensively. Also there were the spectators. We knew we had to give our best.”

On the pressure in the first two quarters:

“We lost some chances in attack and missed the penalty (attempt).”

On qualifying for the Olympics:

“It was a big target considering missing major competitions. It was a big target (to get to London) but we have clearly proven that we should be in the Olympic Games. It was a good job and we deserve.”

Georgios AFROUDAKIS (GRE) — Captain and four-goal hero

On about to play his fifth Olympic Games:

“It will be a Greek record but I don’t think about myself, only the team.”

On what it means to qualify for the Olympic Games:

“For us it has been a struggle since after Beijing (Olympics). Many things changed; (former head coach Sandro) CAMPAGNA (ITA) left and we did not qualify for the World Championships in 2009. Then Dragan ANDRIC joined us and we put in many hours work last year but we had no major competition in 2010-2011. Some older guys came back and our aim was to go to the Olympics. Not going to two World Championships made it hard. It is important for the game in our country.

On the elation of qualifying:

“We will celebrate now but then we have to work and speak about what we will do at the Olympic Games. We were very nervous before today’s game and the month before.”

Nikolaos DELIGIANNIS (GRE) — goalkeeper

“On qualifying for his fourth Olympic Games:

“I had the dream but it was a wild dream. I was not in the team for the last two and a half years. Our coach called and said we could do something. There is lots of room for improvement. The Olympic Games will be two levels up.”

Dragan JOVANOVIC (CAN) — Head coach

On the determination of the Team Canada players:

“I have to congratulate them for that, for that spirit. And that’s how we will build a winning mentality eventually for sure.”

On the future of Canadian water polo:

“I’m extremely proud of these young men… even though we lost; the future is really bright for this team.”

On the disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics:

“It’s tough; it’s not easy at all. It’s really painful, it’s hurting. But, you know what, I’m extremely, extremely proud of these kids.”

Nicolas CONSTANTIN-BICARI (CAN) — Two goals

On looking into the future:

“I missed my chance to go to the Olympics, but I’m confident for the next one. And I know I’ll have more opportunities in the future.”

On Greece:

“The Greeks have so much experience and they controlled that game way more than we did.”

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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