Host South Korea was destroyed by Hungary 64-0 in its FINA World Championships debut in women's water polo Sunday, taking a beating of historic proportions before stunned home fans.
South Korea was thoroughly overmatched in every aspect of the game imaginable, as the merciless Hungary poured in 34 goals in the first half and 30 more in the latter half in Group B action at Nambu University Water Polo Competition Venue in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul.
The result set the record for the largest margin of victory in a water polo game at the world championships. The previous record was set earlier Saturday, when the Netherlands pounded South Africa 33-0.
South Korea received its place in the tournament as the host nation and hastily put together its first-ever women's team barely a month ago. The team is made up of former swimmers, and all but the 23-year-old captain Oh Hee-ji were born in the 2000s.
The lack of experience, not to mention speed and size, was apparent from the opening moments. Hungary scored its first goal on a penalty shot by Dorottya Szilagyi 12 seconds in, and the rout was on.
It was 5-0 after two minutes and soon it became pointless to even try to keep up with all Hungarian goals.
Hungarian attackers were mostly left open by the scrambling, helpless defense. They scored on goalkeeper Oh Hee-ji with shocking ease and made several passes over the heads of much smaller Korean opponents.
At the other end, South Korea barely mounted any offense, with the Hungarians blocking all the passing lanes. South Korean players were pushed out to the perimeters, and those without the ball couldn't get open to receive passes. And the ones that did have possession were often double teamed and stripped of the ball easily.
Hungary didn't let up after pouring in 16 goals in the first quarter and toyed with South Korea the rest of the game.
Hungary scored its 64 goals on 67 shots, with Oh and her backup goalkeeper Kim Min-ju making just three saves.
Rebecca Parkes led Hungary with 11 goals, and all 11 position players got on the scoresheet.
Song Ye-seo had South Korea's lone shot on goal in the first quarter. Song, 18, said she couldn't care less about the final scoring and was pleased with the team's effort, given that the players had only trained together for about a month.
"After the game, we told each other we'll try to do better next time," Song said. "We're still a fledgling team. It was an honor to play a team that we'd only watched on YouTube. They were bigger and stronger than we thought."
South Korea's next match will be against Russia at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, followed by Canada at 7:10 p.m. Thursday.
At the previous world championships in 2017, Russia, Canada and Hungary finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
From their 2017 teams, Canada has brought back 11 of 13 players for this year, Russia 10 and Hungary four.
There are four groups of four teams in the women's tournament.
The No. 1 seed from each group will advance directly to the quarterfinals, while the second- and third-ranked teams will fight for the remaining four quarterfinal spots in the playoffs. The last-place teams will be eliminated and will be relegated to the ranking playoffs. (Yonhap)