Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

There was plenty to talk about on the opening day of the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships at the new Al-Nasar Sport Club Kuwait.

This is the first event to be staged at the fantastic sports complex that features three pools and the matches were up to the occasion.

In Group A, Croatia came back from 4-2 down to defeat South Africa 15-6, with three-goal hero Marko Zuvela  earned man-of-the-match honours. Croatia's first lead came at 6-5 less than a minute from halftime. Japan, inspired by senior international Yusuke Inaba, came through with a 5-1 final quarter to beat Asian rival China 12-9. Inaba netted an incredible eight goals to secure the victory. Japan levelled the match four times before taking the lead for the first time four minutes from full time.

In Group B, Canada led 3-0 against Egypt, only to trail 5-4 at halftime. Two big quarters later and Canada was a 12-8 victor with senior international Jeremie Coté scoring five goals. Spain claimed the scalp of Hungary 9-7 in the final match of the day. The measured encounter was played out slowly with deliberate passing and shooting and exceptional Spanish goalkeeping.

In Group C, Iran had the better of host Kuwait, winning the regional clash 15-7. Kuwait was stung 7-1 in the first quarter and then settled to virtually tie the remainder of the time. Italy powered past United States of America 18-11 with a profoundly brilliant performance that should see the five-time champion back on the top tier. Mateo Spione and Ettore Novara spearheaded the team with seven of the goals.

In Group D, New Zealand opened powerfully with a 22-6 margin over Uzbekistan, built on a 14-2 opening half. The first red card of the tournament was awarded to goalkeeper Shokhboz Usmonjonov (UZB) less than a minute after making a penalty stop. Reigning champion Greece showcased its obvious skills with three returning champions scoring 14 of their team's goals in the 16-9 victory over Australia. Captain Alexandros Papanastasiou scored five and was player of the match.

Progress points:
Group A: Croatia 2, Japan 2, China 0, South Africa 0.
Group B: Canada 2, Spain 2, Hungary 0, Egypt 0.
Group C: Iran 2, Italy 2, USA 0, Kuwait 0.
Group D: New Zealand 2, Greece 2, Australia 0, Uzbekistan 0.

Thursday Schedule:
Match 1, 09:00, Group A, SOUTH AFRICA 6 CROATIA 15
Match 2, 10:20, Group A, JAPAN 12 CHINA 9
Match 8, 11:40, Group D, UZBEKISTAN 6 NEW ZEALAND 22
Match 4, 13:00, Group B, CANADA 12 EGYPT 8
Match 6, 14:20, Group C, KUWAIT 7 IRAN 15
Match 7, 15:40, Group D, GREECE 16 AUSTRALIA 9
Match 5, 18:00, Group C, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 11 ITALY 18
Match 3, 19:20, Group B, SPAIN 9 HUNGARY 7

Friday Schedule:
Match 9, 08:30, Group B, EGYPT SPAIN
Match 10, 9:50, Group B, RUSSIA CANADA
Match 13, 13:30, Group D, NEW ZEALAND GREECE
Match 12, 14:50, Group C, MONTENEGRO KUWAIT
Match 14, 16:10, Group D, BRAZIL UZBEKISTAN
Match 15, 18:50, Group A, CHINA SOUTH AFRICA
Match 16, 20:10, Group A, SERBIA JAPAN