KUWAIT: Kuwait National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanim opened the 20th FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championship, Kuwait 2019, being held at HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Olympic Swimming Pools Complex of Al-Nasr Sports Club, with 20 countries participating.
Al-Ghanim, who is the event’s patron opened the championship in the presence of FINA president along with other dignitaries including Public Authority for Sports Director General Dr Humoud Fulaiteh, his deputy Dr Saqer Al-Mulla, President of Kuwait Olympic Committee Fahad al-Nasser, Head of Kuwait Swimming Federation Sheikh Khalid Al-Bader along with several ambassadors from participating countries.
The 20th FINA Junior Water Polo Championship being held in Kuwait began with a huge win by Croatia in the opening match against South Africa by the score of 15-6 within group A, which also saw Japan beat China in an “Asian derby”. Other results include Uzbekistan losing to New Zealand 6-22 from group D, Canada beat Egypt 12-8 from Group B, Kuwait lost to Iran by the score of 7-15 in group C.
Kuwait national team will face a touch match against Montenegro at 2:50 pm today in the second round, which will also have an interesting match between Iran and USA at 4:10 pm.
The second round will open with another touch match between Egypt and Spain at 8:30 am, followed by a match between Russia and Canada at 9:50 am.
Greece, the current champion will face New Zealand at 1:30 pm, and Brazil will face Uzbekistan at 5:30 pm. Meanwhile China will play South Africa at 6:50 pm while Serbia will play Japan at 8:10 pm.
Third round matches will see Italy facing Iran at 9:30 am tomorrow, Hungary will play Egypt at 10:50 am, while Australia and New Zealand will face off at 12:10 pm, Greece against Brazil at 1:30 pm, Croatia against China at 2:50 pm, south Africa against Serbia at 4:10 pm, USA against Montenegro at 5:30 and Spain against Russia at 6:50 pm.
South Africa’s team coach said it is a huge prestige for us to be in this tournament, which is the best in the world for this age group, adding that being from Africa to play in the world stage is an incredible opportunity for the players to learn and evolve and compare themselves to the best of the world as the case was with the match with Croatia.
He said that in terms of expectations, “we do not get to attend many of these tournaments in our junior age groups, so for this particular group of players 50% of them are playing in their second major tournament and we try to perform as best as we can. He said that it is too early to tell who is favorite to win this tournament, but Croatia is traditionally a strong team, so is Serbia, Italy and Hungary, in addition Japan has a unique system and it will be interesting how that plays in this tournament.
South Africa’s coach thanked Kuwait Swimming Federation and described the facility as amazing.
Croatia’s coach on his part was not satisfied with the first half and said his players were sleeping, but improved in the second half and came out with a good results.
He said “we aim to be in the semifinal and look for a medal for sure,” adding “I hope to win the tournament as some people predict.”
Meanwhile first Vice-president of FINA Hussain Al-Musallam following the board of director’s meeting said Russia will be part of the 20th tournament, adding that the Anti Doping Agency WADA gave Russia 21 days to meet some requirements, then in case Russia fails to do so, they will go to Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to decide, and Russia has the right to participate during this period.
Al-Musallam said the FINA board approved the referees and officials list for the next Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and a number of upcoming championships were discussed.
He said those in the meeting thanked Kuwait, government and Public Authority for Sport for their obvious efforts to organize the world championship.
By Abdellatif Sharaa