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Water polo: Hungary and Montenegro tested the Danube Arena

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The recently opened Danube Arena, the main venue of the 17th FINA World Championships was the training site of the Hungarian and Montenegrin national men’s water polo teams over the past weekend. The Hungarian team – with a new head coach – started its preparations for this summer.

‘Unbelievable’ – is the first word coming to mind upon stepping into the Danube Arena. The host Hungarian team and the Montenegrins had their jaws dropped by the fascinating view and the Arena’s volume. Naturally, the main purpose of the three-day training was hard work and preparation.

The two 50m pools gave the national squads the chance to practice separately at times: both of them are in the process of post-Olympic reconstruction; they must grab every opportunity to train.

Tamás Märcz, the head coach of the Hungarian team is not in an easy situation as some of the key players have just recently retired. A few days ago for example Dániel Varga - World Champion of Barcelona in 2013 and Olympic Champion of Beijing - said goodbye to the national team. However, his brother, Dénes pledged to join the team for the home-held World Championships this July.  

The host Hungarians therefore start the preparations with a refreshed and young roster. Montenegro has already been to Budapest this year with a stronger selection of players at the Volvo Cup (International Men’s Tournament), winning the gold medal ahead of Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia.

The teams have shared their positive opinions on the approaching summer showdown:

Tamás Märcz, head coach of Hungary:

‘What a useful occasion, Montenegro is an excellent training partner, I can work with Vladimir Gojkovic very well. The rhythm was fast-paced, the Montenegrin team shall be very powerful on the international water polo field in the coming years. Our goal is the same, building up a strong and combat-worthy team. These trainings can be used to try out new tactics and ideas without the pressure of serious competition.’

Vladimir Gojkovic, head coach of Montenegro:

‘I am very honoured to have this opportunity; I cannot express my gratitude to Tamás Märcz for inviting us here. These three days and the mutual training were wonderful. We had a great amount of work with our younger team this week, I hope Tamás was satisfied with the time we spent in the pools. The Danube Arena is fantastic! Normally every new pool or building made for a world class event is ready just in time for the start of the competition; but the Danube Arena is already open to use months before the World Championships, which is unbelievable.’

Ferenc Salamon, player of the Hungarian team:

‘The venue is amazing with great atmosphere and (yet) empty grandstands but I am sure it will be crowded here in July. These days were helpful for everyone and having Montenegro as a partner in this was such an honour. We got tired after the hard work, we did not have any minutes to relax, we came here to get better and stronger. We might see each other again in April for a friendly game, I am very positive about the World Championships, and I will do my best to make it there in July.’

Viktor Nagy, player of the Hungarian team:

‘We still have to get better and train even more. We have to try out new tactics and find the best one to use at the World Championships. Training, training, training’. I am looking on this intensive period ahead of us with much hope and expectations.’

The water polo tournament of the 17th FINA World Championships will be held at the Alfréd Hajós Complex on Margaret Island between July 16 and 29. The draw of the tournament was held in Budapest on February 24, click HERE for more details.

More photos on the below gallery.