Connect with us


Clinical Slovakia overcome improved Malta

SLOVAKIA        8
MALTA              4
(3-1, 2-1, 1-2, 2-0)

The Malta waterpolo national team produced a much-improved showing at the European Championships but still was not enough to overcome Slovakia in the positional play-offs at the Dunai Arena in Budapest.

Malta have never managed to beat the Slovakians at the European Championships but the team on Monday produced arguably their best performance in Budapest so far, as they remained in the match until the final session only to concede defeat when conceding two quick-fire goals from the Slovakians that settled the match.

But coach Karl Izzo will have been pleased with the reaction of his players from Saturday’s disappointing 26-0 defeat to Hungary as the players showed great defensive organisation, with goalkeeper Nicky Grixti again standing out with some fine saves.

Steve Camilleri played his best match of the championship after all four of his team’s goals but our biggest problem remain the man-up sets with the team scoring just one of seven numerical advantages.

Now, Malta have one final assignement against France or the Netherlands in the play-off for 15th place and although we’re facing a team of a higher calibre one hopes that they can end the campaign on a high.

There was little separating the two teams in the first sessions as both sets of defences seemed to be holding the edge. In fact no goals were scored in the first two and a half minutes.

The Slovaks needed a long-rane Juraj Zatovic long-range shot to take the lead.

But the Maltese soon responded through Steve Camilleri who also found the net with a shot from outside to restore parity.

Slovakia manage to take control of the match with two late strikes from Marek Molnar and Zatovic against to take a two-goal advantage.

At the start of the second session Malta could have pulled one back from a man-up set but Jerome Gabaretta hit the post and the Slovaks soon went on a swift break with Samuel Balaz firing home.

The Maltese kept fighting and they bridged the gap when Jerome Camilleri won a penalty and his brother Steve made no mistake 4-2.

The match remained on an even keel with both sides missing failing to add to their tally until Maros Tkac restored his team’s five-goal lead at the break.

In the third session, Malta were continuing to defend well but the Slovakians were making all the difference with their sharp-shooting from beyond the six-meter line and it was in fact Juraj Zatovic who hit the target to make it 6-2.

Malta’s aspirations of trying to bridge the gap in the match was not being helped by the team’s poor shooting.

It was Steve Camilleri who finally put the team back on the mark when converting a man-up.

The Slovaks seemed to be struggling and Malta managed to bridge the gap again through Steve Camilleri to somewhat reopen the match – 6-4.

Any hopes of a Malta fightback was quickly dispelled by Slovakia early in the fourth session as Zatovic beat Grixti at his near post before Martin Kolarik made it 8-4.

That double blow all but settled the match as the Maltese were showing signs of tiredness and that reflected in their poor conversion rate from man-ups.

SLOVAKIA: T. Hoferia, M. Caraj, J. Zatovic 4, A. Furamn, A. Mitruk, M. Molnar 1, M. Tkac 1, T. Bieli, A. Kovacik, M. Kolarik 1, S. Balaz 1, L. Kozmer.
MALTA: N. Grixti, J. Gabarretta, A. Galea, G. Pace, Darren Zammit, M. Zammit, S. Camilleri 4, J. Camilleri, J. Abela, A. Cousin, B. Plumpton, D. Zammit, A. Borg Cole.
Referees A. Alexandrescu (Romani), G. Kun (Hungary).

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


World Cup News


More in Waterpolo