KUWAIT: Kuwait’s national water polo team lost its first match in the ranking stage, which is held do determine teams to be ranked from 13th to 20th place. Kuwait’s loss came against Russia which won 17-7 yesterday at the start of the ranking stage, which also saw Egypt beat Iran 11-7, China beat Uzbekistan 18-10 and south Africa beat Brazil 7-6.

Kuwait’s goals were scored by Mohammad Ashkanani, Mubarak Dashti, Abdelrahman Al-Wazan, Saud Al-Otaibi and Abdallah Jassim. Kuwait will meet Uzbekistan at 9:20 this morning, competing for places 17 to 20. Russia will play China, while Egypt faces South Africa for places from 13-16.
Meanwhile, the four teams who topped their groups in the first round; Serbia (A), Spain (B), Italy (C) and Greece (D), will start the quarter finals competition today. Serbia will play the winner of yesterday’s match between Hungary and Montenegro, Spain with the winner of the match between Croatia and New Zealand, Italy with the winner of the match between Australia and Japan, and Greece will play the winner of the Canada – US match.

The first round finished Monday with Hungary beating Canada 17-7, while Russia beat Egypt 17-7 in the fifth and final round of Group B. Italy defeated Kuwait 17-7 and Montenegro defeated Iran 17-6 in Group C, while Australia defeated Uzbekistan 25-7 and New Zealand defeated Brazil 8-6 in Group D.

Kuwait Swimming Federation Vice-President for Technical Affairs Ali Al-Enezi said the performance shown by Kuwaiti players during the tournament was “outstanding” and “exceeded all expectations bearing in mind the European teams’ strength, besides the good performance of other teams such as Japan, New Zealand and China whose levels have risen a lot compared to previous tournaments.”

Enezi, who is the championship’s manager, said that the Kuwaiti youth gave “everything they could” in their first participation in an international tournament following a lengthy suspension, and also playing under difficult circumstances as the event coincided with schools’ midterm tests.
Furthermore, he said the tournament’s organizing was “outstanding as acknowledged by FINA and participating delegations, who thanked Kuwait for the hospitality and a level of organization that matches that seen in major championships.”

Japan’s Managing Coach Hazui Shuta was impressed with HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Swimming Pools Complex, adding that the construction of the facility is unique and media coverage is excellent. He said this is his first visit to Kuwait, adding that he has a good impression about Kuwait and its ability to organize top-level world events.

Shuta described competition during the tournament as “very strong,” saying that he was happy that Japan reached the quarterfinals despite the presence of well-established teams from Europe. He added that water polo is still not a very popular sport in Japan “and are working to develop it to increase its popularity.”

By Abdellatif Sharaa