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Malta waterpolo teams start quest for European Championship qualification

The Malta waterpolo national teams will start their bid for qualification to the European Championship finals on Friday.

Milan Cirovic’s men’s team have a must-win match against Ukraine at the National Pool at Tal-Qroqq (start: 7.45pm) while the girls team, led by Aurelien Cousin, are in Bulgaria where they will take on the home side in Burgas (start: 7pm).

Both teams have a common goal in their mind with the men’s team looking to cut their ticket to a fifth successive championship finals while on the other hand, the girls’ team are in search of an historic qualification to the championship finals.

“I feel very excited because today it’s a very important day for both national teams,” ASA president Karl Izzo told the Times of Malta.

“These two matches could be determined for qualification. I am looking forward to these two matches. I am backing both teams and hope they don’t secure victory so that the men’s team will qualify for the European Championships for the fifth time while the girls will secure their first qualification.

“Both teams are well prepared and we’ll hope for the best.”

The men’s team are heading into the qualifying campaign aware that they need to give their all in all three matches, particularly as this time around on the three-best placed runners-up will join the group winners in the continental finals later on this year.

Therefore, Malta will be in search of a convincing victory over Ukraine, knowing that goal average could play a key role in this group which also involves Germany and Bulgaria.

On the other hand, the girls’ team are in their first experience of senior European Championship qualifiers and Friday’s clash is decisive for Cousin’s team as Bulgaria are seen as more of the same level as the Maltese team while Slovakia look to be the strongest side.

Thus, the Malta girls will hope to beat the Bulgarians this evening to ensure they are through to their first European Championship final in the local governing body’s history.

Women’s team captain Louise Cachia said that as a team captain she feels that the chemistry between the players is a crucial factor if they are to have a successful qualifying campaign.

“As a team captain my main responsibility was to try and keep the team united throughout the whole season, particularly when the players are with their clubs and we face each other in the national league and the summer league,” she said.

“To be honest, I didn’t have much problems as we are very united as a group, despite the fact that there are players of different ages and responsibilities in their daily life but the most important thing is that we all have a common goal and we are super determined to fulfil our objective.”

FRIDAY’S FIXTURES

MEN’S TOURNAMENT

FRIDAY

Germany vs Bulgaria   18.30

Malta vs Ukraine         19.45

WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT

Bulgaria vs Malta         19.00

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