Montenegro, Greece, Croatia Join Tokyo Olympic Men’s Water Polo Field

Montenegro, Greece, and Croatia claimed the final three spots in the Tokyo Olympic men’s water polo field at last week’s World Qualification Tournament.

Tokyo Olympic Selections – Men’s Water Polo

The 12 Olympic teams are selected through a combination of various events. The host nation gets an automatic bid. The winners of the 2019 World League earn a berth. The top two teams from the 2019 World Championships qualify, and then five world regions select a representative, some through a regional competition like Pan Ams, the Asian Games, or the European Championships, and others through a different selection process.

Those 9 nations had already been selected, leaving three spots open for this week’s World Qualification Tournament.

Host Nation Japan
2019 World League Serbia
2019 World Championships (2) Italy
2019 Pan Ams USA
Oceania Selection Australia
Africa Selection South Africa
2020 European Champs Hungary
2018 Asian Games Kazakhstan
World Qualification Tournament (3) Montenegro

2020 World Qualifier

Still considered the “2020 World Qualifier,” the men’s tournament actually took place in February of 2021. A field of 12 battled for the final three qualifying spots.

With three teams making the cut, the tournament essentially came down to two semifinal thrillers, plus a bronze-medal match.

Semifinal #1: Montenegro defeats Croatia 10-10 (4-2)

This one was arguably the thriller of the tournament. Croatia surged late in the match with four consecutive goals to take a 9-8 lead. But Montenegro roared back to tie the match with just 24 seconds remaining.

Things went into a penalty shootout, with Montenegro picking up a 4-2 win on a game-ender by Drasko BrguljanThat sealed an Olympic berth for Montenegro, while Croatia was sent to the bronze medal match needing a win to make the Olympics.

Semifinal #2: Greece defeats Russia 13-10

Greece punched its Olympic ticket on an emphatic 5-goal performance from Angelos VlachopoulosIt was a pure offensive blitz, as Vlachopoulos took 12 shots himself and Greece outshot Russia 36-30.

That sent Russia to the last-chance qualifying bronze medal match against Croatia, while Greece officially joined the Olympic ranks.

Final: Montenegro defeats Greece 10-9

With both teams already locked into the Olympics, the gold medal match went back and forth, with Montenegro ultimately outscoring Greece 4-1 in the final quarter to seal a narrow 10-9 win.

Dusan Matkovic scored five times for Montenegro, while Stylianos Argyropoulos scored four goals for Greece.

Bronze medal match: Croatia defeats Russia 11-11 (14-13)

There was one more thriller yet in this tournament in the final round. With an Olympic berth on the line, Croatia went into its second-straight penalty shootout, this time a 14-13 marathon.

The Croatian team finally pulled out the win with five different players scoring in the penalty rounds. That was fitting after a balanced scoring attack in regulation, too – no Croatian player scored more than two goals, and eight different players scored. It was a Josip Vrlic goal that led to the 14-13 win in the penalty shootout.

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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