(2-1, 0-3, 3-2, 3-0)
The Malta U-16 national team bounced back from their defeat to Turkey to see of Egypt to set up a rematch against the United States in the positional play-offs at the World Championships in Volos, Greece.
After Wednesday’s defeat to Turkey in the Gold/Platinum group, the Maltese youngsters were expected to produce a strong response against the Egyptians and Anthony Farrugia’s players showed great mental strength to bounce back to a crucial victory.
In fact, with the win against the Egyptians, the Maltese have now moved into the semi-finals of the Gold Group where they will face a re-match against the United States.
“I am really happy for the players who produced the right response following our defeat to Turkey,” Farrugia told the Times of Malta.
“Losing to Turkey was a big blow for us, particularly after committing so many mistakes in man-up situations. But today the players stepped up their game and managed to clinch a very important victory.
“Whatever happens in the final two matches, the players deserve praise for their performance as it’s not easy to play against such strong opposition with very limited preparation.”
Malta have already beaten the Americans 10-7 in their group opener on Sunday but this time around Farrugia is expecting a tougher test.
“It’s going to be another battle against the US,” Farrugia said.
“The Americans are coming from an impressive win over Germany and will be keen to avenge their defeat to us on the opening day. But I am confident that our players will again rise to the occasion and try to make life difficult for them.”
The match was evenly balanced early on with the Maltese youngsters managing to come from behind as a brace from Jayden Cutajar handed them a 2-1 first-quarter lead.
In the second session, the Egyptians fought back strongly as they managed to score three times without reply to change ends 4-2 ahead.
The third session turned out into a battle between the two sides with the Jayden Cutajar pulling a goal back. But the Egyptians responded with goals from Omar Tarek from man-up sets handing them a 6-3 lead.
The Maltese refused to lie down and goals from Jayden Cutajar and Elijah Schembri put the team just one goal behind – 5-6 – with one session to go.
In the final session, the character of the Maltese players came to the fore as Jayden Cutajar level matters before two quick-fire goals from Zak Cutajar Licari handed the team a crucial victory.
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