TOKYO (Reuters) – The Group B champions of the United States confirmed victory in the women’s Olympic water polo tournament on Sunday at the Tatsumi Aquatic Polo Center and will face Canada in the quarter-finals.
The United States, who won their gold medal in Tokyo for the third consecutive time, did not take part in the competition on Sunday, but their record of three wins and one defeat against Hungary in the group stage was enough for them to narrowly end. One point to be on top.
Spain topped Group A and will face China in the next round. China presented a big surprise by defeating Hungary 11-9 in the first match of the day, to achieve its second victory in the tournament.
Already eliminated, hosts Japan were defeated 20-16 by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team, ending their Olympic debut with four straight defeats.
In the next round, the Republic of China will face Australia.
“It will be a very difficult match and we will have to maintain our focus all the time,” said Andrei Belovastov, assistant coach of the People’s Republic of China. “Australia has played well in this tournament so far and we are ready to fight.”
Australia’s Stingers, who were crowned Olympic champions in Sydney in 2000, beat South Africa 14-1 to ensure the newcomers went home without a win.
The Netherlands, who defeated Canada 16-12, will meet Hungary in the last two of the quarter-finals, all matches on Tuesday.
Canada lined up with the Netherlands in an intense first quarter, but did not respond to the inspiring form of winger Simone van de Kratz, who scored six goals from seven shots to give the Netherlands a decisive advantage.
The victory helped the Dutch national team avoid a difficult confrontation with the United States in the first knockout round.
“We prepare for every match as if it were a final and today we felt it was a final because it was important to classify the group,” said Van de Krats.
“We knew we would face Hungary or the United States (in the quarter-finals), so we prepared for both. We can beat them if we are very focused and prepared.”
Dutch coach Arno Peniva admitted that the United States is the favorite to win the gold medal.
“But if you want to win this tournament, you have to defeat everyone and we are ready for anything,” he added.
Additional reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, Written by Shrifathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, Editing by Pritha Sarkar
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