Australia finish tenth after frustrating loss to Montenegro31 July 2009
The Aussie Sharks blew a three-goal advantage in the final quarter to lose 8-7 to World League and European champion Montenegro at the FINA World Championships men’s water polo tournament.
The two countries, who have endured close encounters in recent years and drew at last year’s Beijing Olympic Games, were playing off for ninth position.
The Sharks had the game in the bag with just over four minutes remaining, only to lose the plot and gift four goals to the Montenegrins with the final nail in the coffin coming 50 seconds from time.
Montenegro had earlier been stunned by Australia’s hard, non-nonsense style, leading 3-1, 4-3 and 6-4 at the breaks.
When Richard Campbell scored at the top of the fourth quarter, it looked like the Sharks had improved a position on their 2007 effort in Melbourne.
Head coach John Fox was distraught after the match. Drenched in sweat from the long heat wave and 50C plus poolside temperature, Fox said:
“The boys s… themselves. I don’t know a nicer way to say it.
“They abandoned the game plan and the extra-man moves. They failed under the pressure.
“We worked well to obtain a three-goal lead and after that it was a different game.”
On the tournament, Fox said: “That game was probably symptomatic of the tournament. There were lapses in concentration and belief and we end up coming 10th.”
Thomas Whalan, playing his fifth world championships, finished the highest goal-scorer with 13 with Campbell netting eight while goalkeeper James Stanton impressed with 12 saves for a tournament total of 55.
The Sharks finished with a 2-1-3 record, ending their 2009 international campaign and left to prepare for next year’s season, which includes the Commonwealth Championships and World Cup.
The Australian women who won bronze at the Beijing Olympic Games will play off for fifth against Olympic Champions the Netherlands on Saturday.
Australian Water Polo