The Water Polo World Cup begins for the men's version of the sport on Tuesday as eight of the planet's top nations battle for the coveted title.
The tournament takes place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from Aug. 19-24.
The USA recently reaffirmed their dominance of the women's game, once again taking the title with a 10-6 victory against Australia in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, on Sunday.
They become the first female team to defend the World Cup since the Netherlands in 1999.
Contesting the men's title this year are South Africa, Montenegro, Serbia, USA, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Australia and Hungary.
The tournament begins with a group stage, with four sides in each group. Below is the full schedule for the tournament.
Coverage of the World Cup and stream information can be found at FINA Live TV.
|Men's Water Polo World Cup—Group Stage|
|Group A||Group B|
|Men's Water Polo World Cup Full Schedule|
|Aug. 19 - Day 1||2||Montenegro v Serbia|
|3||Croatia v Hungary|
|4||South Africa v USA|
|1||Kazakhstan v Australia|
|Aug. 20 - Day 2||5||South Africa v Serbia|
|7||Montenegro v USA|
|8||Croatia v Australia|
|6||Kazakhstan v Hungary|
|Aug. 21 - Day 3||10||Montenegro v South Africa|
|11||Australia v Hungary|
|12||Serbia v USA|
|9||Kazakhstan v Croatia|
|Aug. 22 - Quarter-finals||13||2A v 3B|
|14||3A v 2B|
|15||1A v 4B|
|16||4A v 1B|
|Aug. 23 - Semi-finals||17||Loser 13 v Loser 16|
|18||Loser 14 v Loser 15|
|19||Winner 13 v Winner 16|
|20||Winner 14 v Winner 15|
|Aug. 24 - Final round||21||Loser 17 v Loser 18|
|22||Winner 17 v Winner 18|
|23||Loser 19 v Loser 20|
|24||Winner 19 v Winner 20|
Defending the men's World Cup crown from four years ago are Serbia, who are favourites to succeed once again in 2014. They are the reigning FINA World League title holders after being victorious last June.
Croatia and Hungary are also among the favourites to take the World Cup title. The Croatians are the holders of Olympic gold from 2012, while Hungary did likewise at the World Championships.
Montenegro will also fancy their chances and are the most recent silver medalists from the World Championships.
Both Australia and the USA have depth and history in the sport and, although relative outsiders, each nation will battle their counterparts hard.
Team USA include three players with Olympic Games experience—John Mann, Merrill Moses and Jesse Smith—per SwimSwam.com.
The Aussie Sharks are taking a team blended with youth and experience to the World Cup after separate training camps at the Australian Institute of Sport and a useful stay in Kazakhstan before the competition.
Sharks coach Elvis Fatovic said it was hugely beneficial to train in the host nation and that he was in a buoyant mood before the competition, per Water Polo Australia:
It’s good to train in one of the best water polo environments, and to have a training game against Montenegro.
We played our last official game two months ago. We have worked on our fitness and improved each segment of our game, and I am very satisfied with the work put in.
We are looking forward to our next game, however we are aware that the quarter final will be the most important game of the tournament.
Serbia have the strength to once again win the World Cup, but it will be no easy task to navigate such tricky waters. The level of competition is high as these are the world's eight elite teams, but Serbia have the experience in such situations.
Hungary are a team with great ambition, and they will feel they can add the World Cup to their recent successes on the global stage.
The competition looks to be one of the strongest in living memory, with one of three or four nations capable of taking home the title.
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