Gain historic berth at 2024 U-16 world championships
(3-1, 3-1, 3-3, 2-1)
The Malta Under 15 national team ended their commitments at the European Championship finals in tenth place after losing to Germany 11-6 in the play-off for ninth place in Podgorica on Sunday.
The Maltese youngsters gave everything they had to end their campaign on a winning note but the Germans had that something extra that enabled them to secure the victory.
But despite the defeat, the Maltese youngsters leave Montenegro with their heads held high after achieving an historic result at the continental tournament as they secured the highest-ever placing by a waterpolo national team in such a competition and no doubt with more hard work and investment this team represents the future of waterpolo for our islands.
Aquatic Sports Association of Malta president Karl Izzo was proud of the performance of his players and revealed that this week’s result has guaranteed an automatic place for this team for next year’s World Aquatics World Championships, which are likely to be held in Colombia.
“I am really satisfied and honoured with the performances and results achieved by our Malta U-15 team at the European Championships,” Izzo told the Times of Malta.
“In my first year as president of the ASA, the investment that we have put in the national teams’ technical set-up is bearing the right dividends and is mirrored by this week’s result in seeing this team achieve our best ever placing by a national selection.
“Added to that our tenth placing in this championship has earned this team an automatic berth for next year’s U-16 World Championship – an unprecedented feat in the history of Maltese waterpolo.
“This is an historic achievement and I can not mention the work put in by Jonathan Valletta, who it must be said is in his first coaching experience. But I firmly believed in his ability and he managed to bring home such a prestigious result.
“No doubt, this team has a bright future ahead of them and I believe they can continue to progress and become a solid foundation for our future of the senior national team.
“My gratitude also towards assistant coach Ryan Coleiro, who did a great job, Kenneth Camilleri, who was for the first time acting as team manager of a national team, physio Jed El Saghir, who prepared the team for this tournament and Karl Galea, the head of delegation, who led our contingent in the best possible way.”
Izzo vowed that the ASA will continue to invest heavily in the national team.
“This result has further increased my determination to keep investing in our national teams. We have managed to finish ahead of countries like the Netherlands and Romania who traditionally always place higher than us and that is no mean feat.
“Teams like Germany, Romania, and the Netherlands have been preparing for these championships for the past two months, something we couldn’t do as our players have to stay with their teams for their national championship commitments.
“But I am planning to sit down with the clubs and discuss with them on such issues. Things have to change and ensure that we give the national teams the priority they deserve.”
The Germans were off to a strong start as they struck three times in the opening session through a Dimitrij Vasilev race and another goal from Tobias Scherrieble with the Maltese responding courtesy of a penalty conversion from Shailon Cutajar Casha to trail 3-1.
The Maltese tried to stay in the match in the second quarter but the Germans were in clinical form as a brace from Noel Palata and another goal from Elias Marko Goethke gave them a 6-1 lead before Andre Aquilina pulled a goal back for Malta before ends were changed.
Malta finally hit back in the third session as they managed to share six goals with their opponents, following a hat-trick by Sam Engerer, with one of the strikes coming from a penalty, to start the final session 9-5 behind.
Engerer struck again at the start of the final session to bridge the gap to 9-6.
But the Germans quickly regain control of the match as they scored two late goals from Marian Kob and Scherrieble sealed an 11-6 win.
GERMANY: S. Lawrence, H. Rogge, L. Molnar, M. Kob 1, T. Scherrieble 3, N. Palata 2, N. Meyer, T. Khokhobashvili, D. Vasilev 2, A. Leichter, E. Goethke 2, M. Machidenko 1, M. Lehmann.
MALTA: Z. Dzanovic, M. Lanzon, T. Fenech, A. Aquilina 1, S. Cutajar Casha 1, M. Cassar, S. Mifsud, S. Engerer 4, J. Pawley Neame, J. Tabone, A. Fava, P. Tabone, K. Manara.
Referees: Alban David (France), K. Dvoracek (Czech Republic).
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