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SA water polo team capture Nations Cup title in Denmark
- Updated: April 8, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
For so long treading water on the international scene, South Africa’s water polo players have more than kept their heads above the water and recently notched up a watershed victory at the EU 8 Nations Cup in Odense, Denmark.
Captained by Pierre le Roux, the team were invited to the Nations Cup after last year’s FINA World Cup in Kazakhstan where they put in a solid performance and raised eyebrows with a narrow 10-12 defeat to Montenegro, the European champions.
The South Africans played five matches, which included three pool games, a semi-final and final.
In the final they beat host nation Denmark 8-10 in an absorbing end-to-end contest.
Day One saw them beating Austria 4-6 but going down to Denmark 6-9. The next day they won their final pool in convincing fashion, 15-3 against the Czech Republic and then took out Ireland to the tune of 14-6.
That saw them play Denmark on the final day of competition, a match they eventually won 10-8 after a titanic competition.
The tournament victory meant the team ended ahead of Commonwealth Games silver medallists Malta and scored 51 goals (with 30 conceded).
Day three saw the SA team featuring a loud and powerful national anthem ahead of the final and this was followed by an inspiring display of water polo in the first quarter.
They took control in the first period ending with a 5-0 advantage. Predictably the Danes fought back but halftime came and went with the South Africans still 6-2 to the good.
The young SA team were under pressure from a fanatical home crowd and the Danes edged the third quarter 3-2 to see a gap of three goals going into the final quarter. The Danes got off to a good start with an early goal but although the Danes went on to score another two goals, South Africa pulled back two of their own to leave the final score 10-8.
Top goalscorer for South Africa was Nic Molyneaux with 13 and skipper Le Roux was only one behind him. The two were second and third highest goalscorers respectively at the tournament.
Now hopes are that this win will earn South Africa the recognition they have been working towards, for the past few years. Many of the athletes are in full training for the FINA World Championships in Russia later this year, and in the long run, aiming to qualify and compete at the Rio Olympic Games.
It’s been several years since South Africa sent a water polo team to the Olympics and all the athletes have the common goal of reaching this milestone for South African water polo.