Greece was defeated by Hungary 13-14 at shoot-outs at the Men’s Water Polo World Championship final and won the silver medal after a thriller match that tied at normal time.
It was a hard-fought battle on Saturday as Greece and Hungary faced off in the gold-medal match at the men’s Water Polo World Championship in Fukuoka, Japan.
The cliffhanger final finished normal time 10-10 and went into penalty shoot-outs to determine the winner, with Greece eventually losing to Hungary 13-14.
Although the Greeks were justifiably hopeful for the gold, the silver medal they secured is still the national team’s best-ever men’s water polo World Championship result.
Water polo world champion determined at penalty shoot-outs
Greece opened Saturday’s score with a diagonal shoot, three minutes into the game, but Hungary took the lead as the first period finished 2-4 for the Magyars.
The rivals went into halftime with a 4-5 score for Hungary, but in the second half of the game Greece regained vigour and soon caught up with the score.
The two teams followed one another closely with alternating goals as they competed for the title of 2023’s world champion.
Greek team’s long-standing flirtation with World Championship gold
Greece has come at close reach of winning the men’s water polo world championship a few times before, but this was its first-ever world championship final.
Therefore, hopes were high for a gold medal win, especially as the Greeks were defeated at semifinal level in previous years.
In the lead up to the Fukuoka final, the Greek team won two thriller games against USA and Montenegro and dominated the match against Serbia 13-7, which sent them to the final.
Greece had thus far won the bronze medal in Men’s Water Polo World Championships three times, including last year, and also won silver at the Tokyo Olympics.
But the silver medal is not the only achievement of the Greeks at the 2023 World Championship; on Thursday, Greece and Hungary became the first teams to qualify for the men’s water polo tournament at the Paris Olympic Games 2024 following their victories against Serbia and Spain respectively.
17th Olympic appearence in Paris 2024
Following its silver medal win in Fukuoka, the Greek water polo team is set to compete at the Olympic Games of Paris in 2024.
The Greek national men’s water polo team has participated 16 times at the Olympic Games thus far, having always been present in the tournament since 1980.
Their best result is the 2nd place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, when they lost 13–10 to the Serbs in the gold medal game.
The Greeks have secured a quarter-finals presence on six occasions and closely missed a medal in the 2004 Olympic Games.