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Watch: Cirovic calls for hard work as national team enters new era

New waterpolo National team coach Milan Cirovic. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The Aquatic Sports Association of Malta (ASA) presented its plans for the next three years as newly-elected president Karl Izzo unveiled the technical staff for waterpolo, swimming and artistic swimming that will implement the governing body’s strategy for the next three years.

Izzo announced that Montenegrin Milan Cirovic will replace him as national team coach and will be assisted by former Malta captain Niki Lanzon. Aurelien Cousin has been installed as the new women’s national team coach while Jonathan Valletta will be in charge of the Malta U-15 selection.

Cirovic will also be in charge of the U-17 national team and will have Anthony Farrugia as his right-hand man.

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

“I have known Milan Cirovic for the past two or three years and I know well how much he can give to Maltese waterpolo,” Izzo told a news conference.

“Although he is very young he boasts a lot of experience having worked with some great waterpolo coaches such as Igor Milanovic at Galatasaray and also with Vladimir Gojkovic with the Montenegro national team.

“Gojkovic is one of my biggest reference points in waterpolo and when I approached him and requested to bring Milan to Malta he gave me his full support and said that he would be a great asset for waterpolo here.

“Apart from the national team, Milan will also be in charge of the Malta U-17 national team and having vast experience in working at youth level will help us to bring the best out of our youngsters.”

On his part, Cirovic said that he has had positive feelings since he arrived in Malta ten days ago and that he is ready to work very hard to take the sport to a higher level.

“I have been in Malta for the past ten days and my priority is to help all the waterpolo coaches in Malta as in my opinion that is the only way to help our sport here to grow,” Cirovic said.

“It’s clear that we cannot improve the sport if the club and the federation do not work together. So far, I have seen some very interesting things and there is a great platform to work on.

“I spoke with several Montenegrin players who came to play in the Maltese summer league and they have said some great things about the movement here. I did come to Malta two years ago with the Montenegro U-17 team and I saw a lot of people working for waterpolo.

“It’s clear that there are some problems that need to be resolved. Having the first indoor pool in Malta will be very important as it will give us more space where our athletes can train. If you want to challenge the best teams in Europe you need train more.

“I am lucky to have so many talented young players who have ample room of improvement and with more hard work we can create something special.”

Cirovic’s first international assignment will come in March when the team will be involved in the World Cup second division qualifiers that will be held between March 9 and 12 will face hosts Romania, Ukraine, Germany, England and Ireland, with the top two teams progressing to the tournament proper.

A few days later, he will lead the U-17 selection in the Euro qualifiers against Poland, Slovakia, Great Britain and Latvia.
Delon Dannhauser has been confirmed as the head coach for swimming.

The South African coach admitted that the upcoming 2023 GSSE where his main priority.

“With the Games of the Small States of Europe a few months away, it’s natural that they are our main priority,” the South African coach said.

“But beyond that I am excited to start a new cycle in our sport as we look to take the sport to a higher level.

“I am very pleased with the great support from president Karl Izzo and we are excited to work even harder and nurture more young talent towards bigger success in international competition.”

Michelle Hubner was also confirmed as the artistic swimming national coach.

“In the past few months we have enjoyed some great results with Ana Culic becoming the first senior athlete to compete in a European Championship while our youth team placed in 11th place at the continental championships,” Hubner said.

“These results give us more belief to continue to work hard with our athletes so that we can achieve even better results.”

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