The FINA Men’s World League Super Final (Ruza, Russia, June 20th-25th) is very near. Participants are bringing their preparations to an end, so they played several friendly matches in the past few days.
Serbia, the reigning champion in all major competition, hosted Australia. The Serbs and the “Aussie Sharks” met three times. Serbia won all three games.
Serbia had no mercy in the first match, in Nis. The Olympic champions beat Australia 14-5 (2-3, 3-0, 5-0, 4-2). Two sides next match played in Krusevac yesterday. The home team took the lead early (in the middle of the second period the Serbs were 5-0 up). But Australia didn’t let Serbs new convincing victory. At the end, Serbia won 12-8 (3-0, 4-3, 3-2, 2-3).
The third match was played in Kragujevac this evening. Serbia continued winning series by defeating Australia 10-7 (2-1, 1-1, 5-3, 2-2). The Olympic champions led throughout the match again, and they secured a victory when Pijetlovic netted for a 7-4 lead (1:36 before the end of 3rd period)
Before the match in Kragujevac, Serbia head coach Dejan Savic announced the squad for the Super Final: Gojko Pijetlovic, Branislav Mitrovic (goalkeepers) Radomir Drasovic, Viktor Rasovic, Sava Randjelovic, Milos Cuk, Dusko Pijetlovic, Nemanja Ubovic, Milan Aleksic, Gavril Subotic, Filip Filipović, Andrija Prlainovic, Stefan Mitrovic.
Three players from the team which won the Olympic gold will miss the Super Final: Zivko Gocic, Slobodan Nikic (both are retired), Dusan Mandic (injured) and Nikola Jaksic. They are replaced with Radomir Drasovic, Viktor Rasovic, Nemanja Ubovic and Gavril Subotic.
Serbia – Australia 14-5 (2-3, 3-0, 5-0, 4-2), Nis
Serbia: Subotic 4, Stojanovic 3, Filipovic 2, Ubovic 2, V. Rasovic,S: Mitrovic, Drasovic.
Australia: Younger 2, Power, Ford, James.
Serbia – Australia 12-8 (3-0, 4-3, 3-2, 2-3), Krusevac
Serbia: Filipovic 4, S. Mitrovic 2, Lazic, Vico, Ubovic, Subotic, Vasic, Stojanovic.
Australia: Kayes 2, Hollis, Power, Gilhirst, Nicholas, Ford, Younger.
Serbia – Australia 10-7 (2-1, 1-1, 5-3, 2-2), Kragujevac
Serbia: Prlainovic 2, S. Mitrovic 2, Aleksic 2, Filipovic, Cuk, D. Pijetlovic, Subotic,.
Australia: Kayes 4, Gilhrst, For, Younger.
USA – Croatia 1-3
Croatia water polo players, the Olympic vice-champions, travelled to California, where they played four matches against the USA, which won the silver medal in the 2016 FINA World League. The series started in Riverside where Croatia won 12-10 (3-3, 3-3, 5-3, 1-1).
The second encounter, played at Stanford University, was especially significant for the American team. It was the last Tony Azevedo’s game in his successful career. Azevedo, a graduate of Stanford University and one of the best USA water polo players in history, didn’t celebrate a win in his final game. Croatia achieved the narrow victory 8-7 (1-2, 2-2, 2-2, 3-1). The next stop of the tour was Westlake Village. The third match was very similar to the second. Croatia defeated the host by a minimal margin – 6-5 (3-1, 1-2, 1-1, 1-1).
Finally, the USA team managed to beat the visitors after three straight losses. The home team won 7-5 (2-1, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2) in the encounter in Long Beach
It should be mentioned that Croatia went home with a big problem. Sandro Sukno, one of the main players of the team, broke his finger during a training session and he will miss the Super Final.
USA – Croatia 10-12 (3-3, 3-3, 3-5, 1-1), Riverside
USA: Bowen 5, Cupido 2, Ramirez, Hooper, Dunstan
Croatia: Vukicevic 3,Buslje 3, Jokovic 2, Krapic 2, Garcia, Loncar.
USA – Croatia 7-8 (2-1, 2-2,2-2,1-3), Stanford
USA: Bowen 3, Azevedo, Ramirez, Cupido.
Croatia: Fatovic 3, Garcia 2, Krapic, Setka, Buljubasic.
USA – Croatia 5-6 (1-3, 2-1, 1-1, 1-1),Westlake Village
USA: Dunstan, Bowen, Arniglia, Irving, McConnell.
Croatia: Fatovic 2, Petkovic, Vukicevic, Setka, Garcia.
USA – Croatia 7-5 (2-1, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2), Long Beach
USA: Dunstan 3, Bowen 2, Irving, Carnigla.
Croatia: Vukicevic 2, Loncar, Lazic, Fatovic.
Italy defeats Japan in Pescara
Italy, the bronze medalist at the 2016 Olympic Games, hosted Japan, one of the Asian representatives at the Super Final. They played one official match in Pescara. Italy didn’t have an easy job. In a match with plenty of goals, Italy won 15-12 (4-2, 5-2, 4-4, 2-4).
This match was the final rehearsal for Italy. Japan will have three tests more. The Japanese will play at the 2017 Tbilisi Cup in Georgia this weekend. The competitors at the tournament are two teams that will participate at the FINA World League Super Final: Japan and Kazakhstan along with Romania and the host Georgia.
Italy-Japan 15-12 (4-2, 5-2, 4-4, 2-4), Pescara
Italy: Di Fulvio 4, Aicardi 3, Mirachi 2, Fondelli 2, Bodegas, Nora, Iodice.
Japan: Okawa 4, Shiga 3, Yoshida, Ilda, Takada, Inaba, Adachi.
Eight teams seek medals
Eight teams will compete at the World League Super Final, which will be held in Ruza (115 kilometres far from Moskow), from 20th to 25th June.
Group A: Serbia, USA, Italy, Kazakhstan.
Group B: Russia, Croatia, Australia, Japan.
All teams will play in quarterfinals, by system A1 – B4, A2 – B3, A3 – B2, A4 – B1.
The 2016 Fina Men’s World League Super Final was held in Huizhou (China). Serbia won the 4th consecutive title (10th in a total). The USA team was the second, and Greece clinched the bronze.