Greece wins 2nd world junior water polo gold after penalty shootout

Greece Photo:Ivica Veselinov

Greece claimed the gold medal at the 19th World Men’s Junior Championship in Belgrade. In the final game, Greece beat Croatia in a penalty shootout  12:10. Serbia took the bronze. In the match for the third place, the Serbs, the hosts and the title defenders, defeated Hungary 12:11.

This is the second gold medal for the Greeks at the World Men’s Junior Championships. Greece first world junior gold won 2011.

Golden comeback

The Greeks beat Croatia in the final game, despite they were three goals down in the third quarter. Croatia controlled the game in the first half. They led 2:0 in the 5th minute and 4:2 in the 14th. Greece managed to equalise just once in the first half (2:2 at the start of the second period).

Croata water polo

Croatia (click to enlarge) Photo:Ivica Veselinov

The Croats continued playing on their own way in the second half and jumped to a 5:2 when Zovic converted an extra-man (3:08). In that moment, almost everybody in the “Milan Gale Muskatirovic” sports centre saw Croatia as a new champion. But, the Greeks didn’t think on that way. Troulos netted for 3:5, a minute and a half after the Zovic’s goal and Greece started coming back. Masmanidis scored for 4:5 27 seconds before the last rest

.In the first minute of the final period Pejakovic hit the target for 6:4. After that,Greece scored three consecutive goals and gained a lead for the first time (7:6). In that moment, they were close to the gold, but Zovic continued a thriller. He scored equaliser a second by the end (7:7).

Penalty shootout decided a winner for the first time and for the last time at the championship. Greece shooters scored all five goals in the shootout series. Franko Lazic missed in the second series and it was crucial.

Gkouvekas netted the winner for the second world junior gold for Greece and a big celebration of players and supporters.

The first half determined the match for the bronze

Serbia (click to enlarge) Photo Ivica Veselinov

In the match for bronze, Serbia beat Hungary by one goal (12:11), in front of 1.000 spectators (among them were many Hungarians). After the first half, it seemed that host wouldn’t have problems to reach the medal. They were four goals ahead of Hungary already in the 11th minute (6:2). Serbia led 8:4 at halftime.

After the 5-minute rest, the Hungarians were reducing a deficit step-by-step. Six seconds by the end of the third period, they trailed 8:10, after Manhercz converted a penalty (0:08). Hungarian head coach Gyorgy Horkai received a red card because of an incident with the referee by the pool in the finish of the 3rd quarter. He had to leave the bench.

The Serbs had a lot of problems with exclusions. Before the last period, the hosts had 15, and Hungarians 10 exclusions. The players from Serbia were going out of the game one by one, because of the 3rd foul. At the middle of the fourth period, four Serbia players were out. Coach Vladimir Vujasinovic had only one player and a second goalkeeper on the bench. On the other side, only one Hungarian finished the match before the end (Simon was booked in the 4th quarter).

Serbia had a 12:9 lead in the 3rd period, but Hungarians reduced a gap to one goal 47 seconds before the end. Manhercz scored once more from a penalty for 12:11 (that was the 3rd personal foul for Serbia captain Drasovic). It was enough time for them to equalise. In the next action, the Serbs lost the ball. Hungary had 22 seconds for the last attack, but Tankosic stole the ball and Serbs could start to celebrate.

A big number of exclusions must be noted. Serbia players were excluded 20 (!) times, while Hungarians had 12 exclusions. Hungary had 18 attacks with an extra player (they converted 9) and two penalty shots (2 goals). Serbia scored 5 goals from an extra (had 12 chances).

Montenegro takes 5th place

Montenegro woke up too late. After bad performances in a group, the Montenegrins played better in the knockout competition, but not so well to enter into a battle for medals. Montenegro beat Spain 13:9 in the match for the 5th place and took a revenge for a defeat in Group B (7:12). The Montenegrins had an 8:2 lead in the 18th minute. Spain didn’t surrender yet. In the following eight minutes they scored 6, while Montenegro netted just one goal for 8:9 (7:26 by the end). Gardasevic netted from an extra man for 10:8, but Spain came close once more 10:9 (6:06 on the clock). They were shut up after that. Montenegro scored three goals in a row for the final score 12:9.

The only non-European team among Top 8 finished at the 8th place. In the match for 7th-8th place classification Italy beat the USA team 14:8. The Italians, silver medalists at the 2015 World Junior Championship, led 6:3 after the second period and thanks to a 6:1 third quarter secured a victory.

Manhercz MVP

Hungarian Kristian Manhercz didn’t win a medal, but he received two awards after the competition. The player, who won silver with the senior national team at the World Championships in Budapest, named the Most Valuable Player. He was the best scorer too (26 goals). Fran Cubranic (Croatia) received the award for the best goalkeeper.

Media All Star Team: Fran Cubranic (Croatia) — Goalkeeper, Antonio Duzevic (Croatia), Johnathan Hooper (USA), Konstantin Kharkov (Russia), Kristian Manhercz (Hungary), Alexandros Papanastasiou (Greece), Filip Radojevic (Serbia)

Scores, standings, history


Greece 12:10 Croatia
(1:2, 1:2, 2:1, 3:2, 5:3)

Greece: Gardikas 2 (+1 in penalty shootout), Gkouvetsis 1 (+1), Nikolaidis 1, Papanastasiou 1 (+1), Troulos 1 (+1), Masmanidis 1 (+1).
Croatia: Zovic 2, Duzevic 1, Pejkovic 1, Lazic 1, Buric 1 (+1), Biljaka 1, Mercep (+1), Dasic (+1).

For bronze

Serbia 12:11 Hungary
(3:2, 5:2, 2:4, 2:3)

Serbia: Tankosic 2, Tomic 2, Jankovic 2, Radonjic 2, Velkic 2, Gvozdanovic 1, Drasovic 1.
Hungary: Manhercz 4, Szatnari 3, Teleki 2, Nagy 1, Csacsovszky 1.

For 5th place

Spain 9:13 Montenegro
(2:2, 0:4, 5:3, 2:4)

Spain: Granados 3, Bustos 2, Caltrava 1, Rodriguez 1, Tahull 1, De la Fuente 1.
Montenegro: Gardasevic 4, Franeta 2, Mitrovic 2, Ukropina 2, Moskov 1, Spaic 1, Grgurevic 1.

For 7th place

Italy 14:8 USA
(3:1, 3:2, 6:1, 2:4)

Italy: Cannella 3, Guidi 3, Mezzarobba 2, Manzi 2, Piombo 2, Guerrato 1, Novara 1.
USA: Molthen 3, Daube 3, Cavano 1, Hooper 1.

Final standings

1. Greece
2. Croatia 
3. Serbia

4. Hungary
5. Montenegro
6. Spain
7. Italy
8. The United States of America
9. Russia
10. Canada
11. Australia
12. China
13. Japan
14. The Netherlands
15. Egypt
16. Iran
17. Argentina
18. New Zealand
19. Puerto Rico
20. South Africa


1981 Soviet Union
1983 Spain
1985 Soviet Union
1987 Spain
1989 Yugoslavia
1991 Spain
1993 Italy
1995 Hungary
1997 Croatia
1999 Italy
2001 Greece
2003 Serbia and Montenegro
2005 Serbia and Montenegro
2007 Hungary
2009 Croatia
2011 Serbia
2013 Italy
2015 Serbia
2017 Greece

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