The final men’s water polo teams were decided at the 2016 Men’s Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament. The 12 team tournament was split into two groups of six with the top four advancing to the quarter-finals. The winners of the quarter-finals qualified to the Olympics. The Men’s Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament was held in Trieste, Italy from April 3rd to April 10th 2016.
Group A was topped by Hungary whose only blemish was a 14-14 tie against Canada. Relatively speaking Canada had a decent performance in the group stage as they also defeated Russia 7-6 and tied Romania 10-10. Ultimately a 13-5 win over France gave them second in the group. A pair of 12-11 wins over Romania and Russia gave France third place in the group. An 8-8 draw between Romania and Russia was all that was needed for Romania to advance fourth in the group as Russia and Slovakia were eliminated.
Group B also saw a few upsets with Netherlands’ 7-5 opening win against Spain among the biggest. Despite the upset loss a strong first quarter against Italy gave Spain a 9-8 win effectively sending the three teams for a three-way tie. However, an 11-5 win between Italy and the Netherlands was enough to give Italy the tie-breaker win and finish on top of the group. Based on the next tie-breaker criteria Netherlands finished second due to their win over Spain. Germany required a fourth quarter comeback to tie Kazakhstan 11-11 though were able to advance to the next round as the fourth best team. South Africa finished last in the group as they failed to win a match.
The quarter-finals were all decided by a single goal. Germany scored four unanswered goals in the final quarter to put a scare into Hungary though they were able to hold on to win 8-7. Similarly after a horrible third period Canada attempted to comeback against Spain, but simply ran out of time as Spain won the match 8-7. A penalty shoot-out was required between France and the Netherlands after the match tied 8-8. France prevailed 4-3. A goal right at the end of the match from Italy’s Pietro Figlioli gave his nation the 8-7 victory over Romania. With their quarter-final victories the four nations all qualified to the Olympics.
In the semi-finals Hungary won the first match over France in a rather easy 15-9 fashion. The other match between Spain and Italy looked to head for a shoot-out, but Italy’s Michael Bodegas scored a late goal giving his nation a 6-5 victory and a spot at the finals.
The final was initially a close affair though Hungary started to slowly pull away from Italy. At one point Hungary held a four goal lead and while Italy attempted to come back Hungary’s defense was strong enough to hold on to a 10-8 victory to win the tournament. Spain won the bronze medal over France in a 16-4 blowout.
With the entire field known and the draw completed all that is left is to play the games. Hungary will be looking to win its 10th Olympic gold medal while nations like France this will be competing for its first time at the Olympics since 1992.
- South Africa
- IFN. Men’s Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament Starlists and Result Summary. Access on April 10 2016.