2012 Youth world championships impressions: finals
December 10, 2012 2 Comments
AUSTRALIA 5 : 4 USA
In a slow game Australia went to a 3 goal lead largely due to the superb performance by its goalkeeper, Anthony Hrysanthos, who had an excellent match making numerous saves when the Americans had clear scoring chances. Both teams looked tired but the American team’s lack of fitness that has been noticeable in the matches with strong opponents throughout the entire tournament was letting them down again. Nevertheless, they managed to equalize the score by the end of the match only to lose it in the end by not converting their chances in attack and having made a defensive error at a crucial moment.
For Australia it was a moral boosting win after what the coaching staff and players admitted themselves were rather disappointing results in the previous matches with the top teams at this world championships. There is no doubt that both teams will be working hard on their shortcomings in their performances that this tournament helped them to uncover to become more competitive at the next global event for this age group.
GREECE 14 : 5 ROMANIA
Having played very well until the final day, Romania left this tournament on a rather disappointing note. They virtually stopped playing by the beginning of the second half of the match to lose with the margin that nobody thought would have been possible. With due respect to Romanian men’s water polo and its great achievements, in my opinion, the result and, more importantly, the team’s performance in this match is another indication and confirmation of an existing inherent problem of all Romanian teams that I have been observing over many years. This problem is manifested in the fact that they can put up a fantastic effort against any opponent however strong they might be as was shown in Perth but they can also lose with a big margin to an equal team or even lesser team the next day. I do not have an explanation for this fluctuation in performance other than psychological.
The Greek team displayed a solid performance featuring strong players and skills in all departments but in particular its centre-forwards, Manolis Solonakis and Marios Chatzigoulas. This country’s junior development system is working well.
SERBIA 8 : 7 CROATIA
Prior to the match the odds were somewhat in Croatia’s favour based on the previous performances by both teams. In this game the Croats were leading most of the time, but to the Serbs credit they kept coming back and in the end their better actions in the man-up and man-down instances at critical moments brought them the world championship Bronze medals.
As many other events, this tournament has again demonstrated that these nations’ junior development system keep churning out quality players of the highest calibre. Both teams featured athletes who are already members of their national senior squads or will become so in the not too distant future. One example is a Serbian player, Dusan Mandic, who recently became Olympic games bronze medallist in London.
HUNGARY 8 : 10 ITALY
These two teams were deservedly in the final due to the quality of water polo they have been displaying in most of their matches including in the semi-finals. The game started on a high note with both teams exchanging spectacular goals. Both sides featuring a number of the best players of the tournament, including the Italians, Tomasso Busilacchi and Nicola Cuccovillo, and Hungarians, Balint Lorincz and Toni Josef Nemet, to name a few.
Overall, Italy and Hungary were displaying a dynamic, fast, skilful and entertaining water polo that was a fitting and appropriate culmination of this event. Even though it was the YOUTH world championships both teams’ players demonstrated a very high quality mature performance worthy of such an event final.
To me, the Italian team won this event on merit having displayed the best individual and collective skills amongst all other teams and by demonstrating an attractive, combination-water polo that is based upon original thinking and superb technical skills rather than sheer physical strength. The Italian and Hungarian men’s water polo future looks promising due to the current crop of excellent youngsters. Obviously, their junior development systems are very well thought through and structured.
The end of the match was somewhat marred by the unruly behaviour of some players from both sides forcing the referees to use their yellow and red cards more often than what normally would be the case. It degenerated into a difficult match for the umpires as with so much at stake some of the athletes were resorting to the means that had nothing to do with technical or tactical skills and that was unfortunate.
Final standing of the 2012 Youth world championships among men’s teams: 1 – Italy, 2 – Hungary, 3 – Serbia, 4 – Croatia, 5 – Greece, 6 – Romania, 7 – Australia, 8 – USA, 9 – Brazil, 10 – New Zealand, 11 – Iran, 12 – Canada, 13 -Uzbekistan, 14 – Egypt, 15 – Colombia, 16 – Kazakhstan