WL Super Final: Day 2
June 14, 2012 4 Comments
The most anticipated match of day 2 of the World League Finals was CROATIA v SPAIN. However, the USA v CHINA and, in particular, KAZAKHSTAN v ITALY turned out unexpectedly close.
CROATIA 7 : 6 SPAIN
Croatia and Spain are not only among the top eight in the world – they have also been drawn in the same preliminary group ‘A’ in London.
Spain had Ivan Perez in its ranks and he was making a big difference to their attack through his centre-forward actions. During the first period, his team mates managed to deliver the ball to him 3 times. And in all three instances it resulted in exclusions. Perez then sat out the entire second quarter and was getting in the water at the end of the third and during the fourth periods with the same effect as at the beginning of the match.
Croatia went to a 4:1 lead in the first quarter through its players’ sharp-shooting skills. Damir Buric, Petar Muslim and Andro Buslje scored from the perimeter with Igor Hinic adding a centre-forward goal. The Croats preserved their 3 goals lead until the beginning of the last quarter, 7:4. The Spaniards staged a strong come back in the last minutes of the match to lose with only 1 goal difference, 7:6. Apart from Ivan Perez, the most noticeable players in attack for the Spanish team were David Martin, Albert Espanol, Felipe Perrone and Javier Garcia.
On the third day of preliminary rounds, Croatia will be playing against the weakest team at this tournament so far, Brazil.
X-man: Croatia 6/2 (33%), Spain 11/5 (46%)
Referees: Koganov and Rotsart
USA 6 : 4 CHINA
Like in the yesterday’s match against Italy, China punched way above its weight in today’s game against the USA. It was a low scoring match because America failed to convert a number of good opportunities in the first 3 periods due to a combination of good goal keeping by China’s veteran, 35 years old Ge Weiqing, and poor shot execution. The last quarter started with the score 4:3 in the USA’s favour who then was able to extend its lead to 6:3 and finish the match 6:4.
According to an American veteran player, Layne Beaubien, even though they do daily weights and 3-4 kilometres swimming sessions prior to the matches, there were no excuses for the technical and tactical mistakes that his team was making particularly in the light of the good wins the US had achieved against Croatia and Hungary in May.
On the other hand, China, for whom this is the last major tournament during the Northern hemisphere summer, has had good inspirational matches against very strong opponents. Their match against Kazakhstan on day 3 promises to be very interesting. The winner of that match will end up playing in the quarter-final on day 4 against either Australia or Spain.
X-man: USA 8/4 (50%), China 3/2 (67%)
Referees: Flahive and Cabral
AUSTRALIA 15 : 6 BRAZIL
Australia had a better match against the outsiders of the tournament, Brazil. After a slow start, the Ozzies found their rhythm to finish the match with a 15:6 win. Their day 3 match against Spain will be very interesting as both teams will be trying to get a psychological advantage prior to meeting at the Olympic tournament as they are in the same preliminary rounds group ‘A’ in London.
X-man: Australia 8/4 (50%), Brazil 7/2 (29%)
Penalty: Australia 1/1, Brazil 0
Referees: Sadekov and Gomez
ITALY 13 (10) : (10) 10 KAZAKHSTAN
The last match of the day between the hosts, Kazakhstan, and current world champion, Italy, was the most exciting. The main time ended in a draw 10-all after the home team came back from being down 4:9 at the beginning of the third quarter. Inspired by the superb performance of their goalkeeper, Nikolai Maximov, who at the age of 40 reminded everyone that he has always been one of the best goalies in the world, the Central Asian team nearly caused the major upset of the tournament. But it was another goalkeeper, Stefano Tempesti, who became the hero of the match by saving 3 penalties in a row in the shoot-out to deliver a win to his team. (It is the rule for the World League matches that there cannot be draws even in preliminary matches.)
X-man: Italy 14/6 (43%), Kazakhstan 7/7 (100%)
Penalty: Italy 1/1, Kazakhstan 0
After-match penalties: Italy 3/3, Kazakhstan 3/0
Based upon the first 2 days of the tournament, day 3 promises to be very interesting: USA v Italy, Australia v Spain and Kazakhstan v China.