When water polo coaches talk, we listen. Here’s what those that command their teams from the water polo pool deck are saying heading into their opening campaigns to the FINA Water Polo World League games through the European qualifiers.
Serbia v Italy
Serbia comes into 2022 off last’s season stellar year where they successfully defended their Rio 2016 Olympic gold with another at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Italy comes into 2022 as the defending FINA World Championship titlist, having won men’s water polo gold in Gwangju, South Korea in 2019, making this a game of utmost importance on game day one of the FINA Water Polo World League and each team’s quest for this year’s Super Final in Strasbourg.
Dejan Savic- Serbia Head Coach
This year we played an exhibition game with Croatia, and now we are starting the World League competition. The opponent is an attractive Italian team, current world champions. Notably, this is a specific year, with an exhausting and packed schedule and sports calendar, and the players are faced with an intensive challenge.
The World League is currently subordinated to the preparations for the World Championship in Fukuoka. Through the games in this championship, we will aim towards high performance. Both Italy and Serbia have been creme de la creme in the world of water polo for years. Following Tokyo Olympic Games, the teams needed reinforcement, since a number of players had finalized their representative careers; hence, these games also serve to check and identify candidate players for the great championships to follow in the future.
Besides, due to the pandemic’s impact, the availability of the players remains questionable. Anyways, the final result is what counts, as well as the image of the newly formed team. Šabac audience and water polo fans always provide a great environment and atmosphere, and I am certain that we will all enjoy a high-quality and interesting game.
Sandro Campagna – Italy Head Coach
Serbia represents a benchmark for world water polo in terms of quality of players, cyclical results, passion and popularity. So every match is an opportunity to evaluate the level of our game and to grow as a team.
The pandemic is affecting our lives and also water polo, but from every difficulty come opportunities. So even the unavailability of some players gives us the opportunity to try others and expand the team’s roster with young people who have a better chance to play and grow faster. Italy is working with more groups of players divided into age groups and is carrying out a technical project with a very broad base that has the Paris Olympics as its goal.
We are building for the future, giving space to many young people. Serbia is also renewing. So the result will be important but even more so the way we play and take another step along the path of team formation.
We won the world championship in Gwangju with a very technical and fast team. Our characteristics remain these, but we must be able to grow in intensity and maintain the same level of play even when changing players. If, when we are in difficulty, we rely on individuality and not on the group, we will get negative results like at the Tokyo Olympics where Serbia won thanks to the power and technique of its most representative players. So Italy and Serbia represent two different ways of understanding water polo and for this reason, it is always nice to face each other because it gives suggestions and ideas to both.
Greece – Croatia
Greece and Croatia come into this season with completely different experiences in 2021 with the latter being the surprise package in men’s water polo at the Tokyo Olympics. The Greeks began the Games with a statement of intent, crushing the USA 14-5 en route to topping their group phase and heading into the Olympic final undefeated. While Greece lost to Serbia in the final, their silver was the nation’s first in men’s water polo. According to our experts, Greece is a team still firmly on an upward trajectory.
After finishing fifth in Tokyo, the 2017 FINA World Championships winners and London 2012 gold medal-winning Croatia look to get back into the medal mix. Croatia will be looking to start by looking for their first FINA Water Polo World League Super League title since 2012.
Dimitris Kravaritis – Greece assistant coach
We’ve been waiting for the start of the new season with excitement. It’s the first game after the Olympics in Tokyo, in which our team won the silver medal and we hope to start by winning against the very strong Croatian team.
Ivica Tucak – Croatia Head Coach
This will be the first match after the Olympic Games. We changed a lot our team, eight players who were in our team in Tokyo are not here now. For us, it is very important how we will perform against the Greek team that made the biggest surprise by winning the silver medal in Olympics.”
Hungary v Montenegro
Vlado Gojkovic – Montenegro head coach
This is first game for the new season after the Olympic Games and it’s something like a new start. New team, lots of young players for the Hungarian team and my team. This will be a really good experience for these young guys. This is an important game. We want to be on a very good level and try to take victory. We know Hungary is a very good team and medalled at the last Olympics. Their top players from the Olympic Games are here.
We have the quality to show a good game and I hope we will have a good result tomorrow. Our roster is very young. We have some new players, but we’ve worked with them the last two years. I think they’re ready.
Tamas Marcz – Hungary head coach
Happy new year everybody. I am so excited because we play again in the next season after the Olympic Games in our match against Montenegro. They are a very good team and it will be a very tough game. But we are ready and hungry to play again.
We will probably have a swimming pool full of supporters to follow us. We are ready and we are waiting for this match.