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World Cup for men starts in Berlin, reigning champion tests new players

Dejan Savic, Serbia head coach, Photo: waterpoloserbia.org

The busy water polo summer season will be ended this week in Berlin.

The capital of Germany will be the host of the 16th FINA Men’s World Cup. The event is coming back to Berlin, after the 29 years, and the 1989 World Cup. The upcoming competition will be the first big water polo tournament in Germany since 2006 FINA World League Super Final held in Berlin.

The World Cup  will be the 5th big water polo competition for senior men’s national teams in Europe this year. The series began with the Europa Cup Super Final in Rijeka in April. Home team Croatia won the gold medal.

The World League Super Final was held in Budapest in June (Montenegro won the title). A few weeks later the Mediterranean Games were held in Tarragona (Spain), where Serbia took gold. In July, the Serbs continued their winning streak. The Olympic champions clinched their 4th consecutive European gold medal at the European Championship in Barcelona.

Serbia arrived in Berlin as the title-holder, but the “Dolphins” aren’t the biggest favorites. Only five of 13 players who won the gold in Barcelona, will play in Berlin. Head coach Dejan Savic decided to give a chance to younger players, so big stars Filip Filipovic, Andrija Prlainovic, Dusko Pijetlovic, goalkeepers Branislav Mitrovic and Gojko Pijetlovic… will miss the World Cup.

Serbia also played with a very young squad at the 2014 World Cup in Almaty (Kazakhstan). Other favorites came to Almaty with experienced players, but the young Serbs surprised everybody and won the trophy, by beating Hungary in the final after a penalty shootout. That was Serbia’s 3rd World Cup in a row (2006, 2010, 2014)

 “Our goal is to reach the semifinals and to test the players who are among the candidates for the 2020 and the 2024 Olympic Games. Of course, we will try to win a medal” Dejan Savic, Serbia head coach, said. (Source Water Polo Federation of Serbia)

Serbia at the World Cup

Goalkeepers: Dimitrije Risticevic (Catania), Lazar Dobozanov (Radnicki), field players: Dusan Mandic* (Pro Recco), Nikola Jaksic* (Ferencvaros), Viktor Rasovic* (Szolnok), Strahinja Rasovic (Eger), Radomir Drasovic (Sport Management), Sava Randjelovic* (OSC), Nemanja Vico* (Trieste), Djordje Lazic (Szolnok), Ognjen Stojanovic (Miskolc), Mateja Asanovic (?), Gavril Subotic (Dynamo Moscow).
* played at the European Championship in Barcelona

Europeans hunt gold

Eight teams take part at the World Cup. Australia, Germany, Hungary, and Japan will play in Group A, while Serbia, Croatia, USA, and South Africa will compete in Group B.

As usual, European powerhouses are  favorites, while teams like the USA, Australia, Germany, Japan might surprise. South Africa is the only one which is out of the race for the semifinals.

Croatia is coming with almost the same team which won the bronze medal at the 33rd European Championships and the title in the Europa Cup. The Croats had big ambitions in the competition which they haven’t won so far.

Croatia at the World Cup

Goalkeepers: Marko Bijac* (Pro Recco), Ivan Marcelic* (Mladost), field players: Andro Buslje* (Olympiacos), Marko Macan* (Jug CO) i Hrvoje Benic (Jug CO), Luka Loncar* (Jug CO), Josip Vrlic* (Barceloneta), Xavi Garcia* (Jug CO), Andrija Basic (Vouliagmeni), Lovre Milos* (Mladost), Loren Fatovic* (Jug CO), Anđelo Setka* (Jadran) i Ante Vukicevic* (Marseille).
* played at the European Championship in Barcelona

After a disappointing 9th place at the European Championships in Barcelona and the 6th place in Europa Cup, the Hungarians are hunting their second medal this summer (they were 2nd in World League). There are a fer big changes in the Hungarian squad in comparison with the team that competed in Barcelona. But, two experienced players will miss: captain and goalkeeper Viktor Nagy and Marton Vamos.

Head coach Tamas Marcz explained this decision:

“We know what they (Nagy and Vamos) are capable of. What we’re looking at now is what the others are capable of. We’ve seen that it’s not a great idea to skip over any generations, 19-21-year-old players suffer if they’re forced to wait in the background, hence why we’re giving more of them an opportunity here.” (source Hungarian Water Polo Federation)

Hungary at the World Cup

Goalkeepers: Gergely Kardos (Szolnok), Soma Vogel* (Ferencvaros) , field players: Bence Batori*, David Jansik * ( both Szolnok), Szilárd Jansik (Ferencvaros), Gergo Kovács * (Eger), Krisztian Manhercz*(Ferencvaros), Tamas Mezei* (Szolnok), Adam Nagy (Miskolc), Toni Nemet (Ferencvaros), Matyas Pasztor (BVSC), Zoltán Pohl* (Ferencvaros), Gergo Zalanki* (Szolnok)
* played at the European Championship in Barcelona.

Experimental rules

The Men’s World Cup is one of the competitions which will be played by experimental rules, proposed by the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee. A lot of new rules have been tested at the FINA World Youth Championships in Szombathely (men) and Belgrade (women) and at the FINA World Cup for ladies (Surgut).

One of the most important new rule, which wasn’t tested in the competition for juniors, is the fewer players in the team.

In the World Cup (both for men and for women) each team have 11 players to start the game. At least one hour before the match, the team must name which 11 players (out of the 13) will be on the roster for that game. Only those 11 players will be allowed to participate in the match. It is up to each team to decide whether to have a substitute goalkeeper wearing cap 13 and 9 field players, or whether to play with 1 goalkeeper and 10 field players.

As the International Olympic Committee and the FINA approved last year, teams will have only 11 players for each match at the 2020 Olympic Games.

2018 FINA Men’s World Cup, schedule

Tuesday (11 September)

Serbia – South Africa (15:45)
Croatia – USA (17:15)
Opening ceremony (18:30)
Australia – Japan (19:00)
Germany – Hungary (20:30)

Wednesday(12 September)

Australia – Hungary (16:00)
Serbia – USA (17:30)
Croatia – South Africa (19:00)
Germany – Japan (20:30)

Thursday (13 September)

Serbia – Croatia (16:00)
South Africa – USA (17:30)
Hungary – Japan (19:00)
Germany – Australia (20:30)

Friday (14 September)

Quarterfinal 1 (16:00)
Quarterfinal 2 (17:30)
Quarterfinal 3 (19:00)
Quarterfinal 4 (20:30)

Saturday (15 September)

Semifinal 5th – 8th place (14:00)
Semifinal 5th – 8th place (15:30)
Semifinal 1st – 4th place (17:00)
Semifinal 1st – 4th place (18:30)

Sunday (16 September)

For 7th place (10:00)
For 5th place (11:30)
For 3rd pace (13:00)
Final (15:00)

All winners

1979 Hungary
1981 USSR
1983 USSR
1985 FR Germany
1987 Yugoslavia
1989 Yugoslavia
1991 USA
1993 Italy
1995 Hungary
1997 USA
1999 Hungary
2002 Russia
2006 Serbia and Montenegro
2010 Serbia
2014 Serbia
2018 ?

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