The atmosphere was electric, but the result was disappointing for the home crowd, as the Canadian Men’s National Water Polo team fell just short of its goal to qualify for this summer’s London Olympics.
In a hard-fought quarter-final at the Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Edmonton Friday night, an experienced squad from Greece outlasted Canada to win the match 10-6.
“I’m feeling a lot of conflicting emotions,” said goalkeeper, Robin Randall (Drinkwater, SK) after the loss. “I’m obviously super disappointed that we didn’t accomplish the goal that we set out to do. But I’m really happy with the heart that the team showed.”
Twenty-year-old Nicolas Constantin-Bicari (Repentigny, QC) led the Canadian attack with a pair of goals with veteran Kevin Graham (Regina, SK) chipping in a pair as well.
Canadian Head Coach, Dragan Jovanovic (Calgary, AB), who had to sit out the game after receiving a red card during Thursday’s match against Spain, said his players were extremely disappointed. “It’s not easy at all. It’s really painful, it’s hurting. But, you know what, I’m extremely, extremely proud of these kids.”
The tournament continues through the weekend.
Friday’s other quarter-final matches are summarized below.
Montenegro booked the first London berth from the Olympic Qualification Tournament with an accomplished game full of flair, speed and excellent passing. Shots came from everywhere and the outside bombs were few and far between as they penetrated deep into the defence, finding some big gaps. Turkey was in the game at 5-2 midway through the second quarter, but three late goals by the Montenegrins brought the half-time score to 8-2. It was more of the same in the second half as Montenegro proved its dominance at the Edmonton tournament, winning the match 19-6.
The Romanian celebrations were almost as long as the match. In a decisive 19-8 triumph over Brazil, Romania became the second team to emerge from the Men's Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament in Edmonton. From a 4-0 opening quarter, to 7-0 halfway through the second, Romania was in control from the opening whistle. It was a completely different scene four years ago, when Romania hosted the Olympic Qualification Tournament but lost a shocker to Team Canada who stole the berth in the Beijing Olympics. This time, Romania has punched its ticket to London.
FYR of Macedonia 7
Spanish captain, Guillermo Molina, almost single-handedly ensured that Spain would compete in London with a stunning display, scoring five goals against the team that a day before had sent Germany home from the tournament. The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, the Tournament's Cinderella team, got out to an early 3-1 lead against the heavily-favoured Spanish squad. But Spain would respond to score the next four goals to close the half with a 5-3 lead. The fourth quarter was all about Molina as he scored three times to put the match away for Spain. Final score was Spain 11 and the FYR of Macedonia 7.