SPORTS

Water polo team triumphs over Russia at World League final

Greece’s women’s water polo team yesterday won the World League final by defeating Russia 13-10 at Kirishi, Russia. The victory made up for a relatively disappointing fifth place at last month’s World Aquatic Sports Championships and solidified Greece’s position among the sport’s great powers. It also showed that the team has not suffered from the retirement of a few key players following last year’s second place at the Athens Olympics. «It was the culmination of a fantastic year,» said coach Koulis Iosifidis. «A great two-year effort paid off. At the World Championships we missed the chance for yet another medal, but we were compensated for that here.» Following a tight first period, at the end of which Russia pulled ahead 4-3, Greece pulled away easily, leading 8-6 at halftime and 12-6 after the third period. Eftychia Karayianni was the top scorer, with five goals. The World League is reserved to the 12 top-ranked water polo teams, which are split into two groups. In order to qualify for the final round in Russia, Greece played in two tournaments against the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany and Brazil. In the first of them, at La Jolla, California, it began with two defeats at the hands of Australia (5-8) and Canada (11-12), but won its next three games against Germany (10-6), Brazil (7-2) and hosts USA (7-5). In the second tournament, in New York City, it lost again to Canada (4-6), defeated Australia (9-7) and Brazil (9-5), lost to the USA (7-6) and thrashed Germany (9-3). Greece – along with Canada, the USA and Australia – qualified for the final round at Kirishi. The qualifiers from the other group were hosts Russia, Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands. France and Spain were eliminated. Greece successively defeated Hungary (6-4), Canada (10-9) and Italy (15-6) to reach the final with Russia. The hosts were slightly favored to win the Game, which, in any case, was expected to be close. But the Greeks were hungry for a first world victory.