Water polo: the French team fails at the gates of the World Cup final

Croatia, favorite of the match, got the better of them

Water polo: the French team fails at the gates of the World Cup final

Croatia, favorite of the match, got the better of them. The double world champions (2007, 2017) in water polo, finalists of the last European Championship a month ago, displayed their powerful game to overcome (17-16) the French, Thursday February 15 , in Doha, in the semi-final of the world championships. It was the first time that the Tricolores reached the last four of a World Cup.

The French team, which did well, especially in the first two quarters, lost a lot of balls and struggled to score in the third quarter. When the Blues were trailing by three goals (9-6), the biggest gap in the game, at the start of the fourth quarter, we believed in momentum when Enzo Khasz scored his second goal of the game, following a recovery (9-8).

In the following minutes, Bouet equalized at 10-10, one minute and a half from the end of the match. We could dream of a Hungarian-style scenario. In the quarter-finals, the French team equalized at 10 and then scored the winning goal three seconds before the end of regulation time.

A “difficult” defeat

It was with a score of parity (11-11) that regulation time ended. The penalty shootout was fatal to the Blues (6-5), with the Croatian goalkeeper stopping Khasz's shot. The solid defense of the Blues and the dozen saves from Hugo Fontani were not enough to win against the Croats who managed to neutralize the scorers Thomas Vernoux and Romain Marion-Vernoux.

Frenchman Alexandre Bouet was awarded the man of the match trophy. Disconcerted by a defeat that he considered "difficult", he re-mobilized at the microphone of the organizer in view of the match for the bronze medal, which will be played on Saturday February 17 at 4 p.m. against Spain.

Coming out of Group B, where they only conceded a narrow defeat against Greece (12-13), the Blues eliminated the Hungarian title holders in the quarter-finals (11-10) on Tuesday February 13, before, therefore, falling against another great of the discipline. In almost constant progress for two seasons, Florian Bruzzo's players finished sixth at the World Championships in Fukuoka (Japan) in 2023, which was, at the time, the best result in the history of the Blues. In Doha, they took another step forward by reaching the Top 4.

In the final, the Croatian polo players will face Italy, Saturday February 17 at 5:30 p.m., winner of its semi-final against Spain (8-6).