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FINA WC Day 10 - Review of Men's Water Polo

Jul 22, 2003

Hungary sent a message to the world when it thrashed Slovakia 13-5 in a quarter-final of the men's water polo competition at CN Barcelona pool.

"Don't mess with us! We're champion material.

Slovakia wasn't expected to get this far and Hungary showed why it is one of the best teams in the world. The masters dished out a lesson.

Serbia & Montenegro pushed the same message in the evening with a brutal 7-3 defeat of dual world champion Spain before a near capacity crowd.

With so many upsets already in the championship, it now comes down to a four-horse race with Olympic champion Hungary against 2004 Olympic host Greece and European champion Serbia & Montenegro versus Italy.

Greece beat the United States of America 4-2 in a pressure-cooker match and Italy saw off Australia 7-3.

Hungary made it intentions clear with a 5-0 opening quarter, a tight middle half and then five more goals in the final quarter. The ease with which it achieved the win and the margin speaks volume for its purpose and skills. And to cap off a fine team effort, no fewer than nine players scored at a highly economical 62 per cent.

Greece had to battle through a fierce physical contest against the United States of America in the lowest-scoring match of the entire World Championship, winning 4-2. At 1-all by halftime, spectators were exhausted by the gladiatorial duels, let alone the players. But the statistics said it all as USA scored just two from 22, compared to the Greeks' four from 24. The forest of arms greeting every shooter were testament to hours upon hours of defensive training. But USA coach Ratko Rudic admitted his team played badly after an excellent championship.

He's got the Superman logo tattooed on his left shoulder and that is what he is. Aleksandar Sapic is the foundation on which the Serbia & Montenegro team builds its team and his five-goal haul proved a match winner. The European champion beat dual World Champion Spain with a 2-0 opening quarter, a 4-1 halftime lead and a demoralising 6-2 lead at the final break.

In the Italy-Australia clash, the Europeans raced to 5-0 by early in the third period before the Aussie Sharks shot back with two goals to be 5-2 down heading into the last. The gap was too large for Australia to bridge and Italy won 7-3.

In the ninth-12th classification, Croatia downed Germany 7-3 after they couldn't be separated at halftime and Russia was made to work for its 9-6 victory over Romania. In an amazing turnaround, last year's World Cup and World League champion will play last month's European silver medallist Croatia for ninth place!

At the bottom end of the scale, Japan beat China 10-9 in extra time in the Asian finale, having finished full time 8-8.

In the play-off for 13th place, Brazil defeated Canada 6-5 in the Americas encounter.