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Brave Valletta go down fighting against Galatasaray in LEN Challenger Cup



(2-2, 1-3, 2-4, 1-1)

Malta’s second act in the LEN Challenger Cup, a quarter-final tie against Galatasaray, turned out to be an honourable performance never mind a defeat that has all but ended their dream to keep their fairytale participation alive.

The 10-6 defeat, is a close scoreline by the standards of waterpolo, reflecting the battling display of Malta, alias Valletta, which has lived up to its billing of being a good squad in the European waterpolo rankings.

An dream qualification to the LEN Challenger quarter-finals brought about a dauting challenge when Malta alias Valletta, were drawn against Turkish giants Galatasaray.

It was definitely uncharted waters for Milan Cirovic’s side. Having navigated the team through difficult moments during the group stages when seemingly on the brink of missing out on the top two positions, the Montenegrin coach has now a tough task to turn around the tie in the second leg on December 9.

Cirovic’s men battled on and were still in with a chance of a positive result till midway through third session. Galatasaray, then, made their class tell.

Defeat was on the cards against a team who rely on strong swimming and clinical executions.

The Malta coach was well aware of the Turks’ potential, having spent three years as assistant coach at Galatasaray.

With the strong gusts of cold wind which blew in their favour, the Maltese side started strongly, going two goals up. Sam Gialanze opened the scoring with a 5-metre throw. Liam Galea made it 2-0.

The Turks reacted well to level matters through Marko Kristic and Burtay Akkaya.

Dejan Vujovic gave Galatasaray lead for the first time before Nicholas Bugelli made it 3-3 early in the second session.

Atakan Destici and Can Caner Selcuk, two great performers, kept their momentum with Gialanze and Galea getting their second individual goal for a 9-5 score at the end of the third period.

The Maltese stopped Galatasaray’s scoring momentum in the fourth session when Andreas Galea cancelled out Destici’s goal for a final 10-6 scoreline.

Valletta: J. Tanti, M. Mifsud, A. Galea 1, M. Castillo, S. Gialanze 2, B. Cachia, L. Galea 2, A. Fenech, J. Abela, J. Bonavia, Da. Zammit, N. Bugelli 1, B. Busuttil.

Galatasaray: K. Kil Huseyin, F. Acar, E. Naipoglu, E. Colak Engin, C. Caner Selcuk 3, S. Gulenc Osman, D. Vujovic 1, A. Destici 2, O. Senemoglu 1, M. Krstic 2, O. Alpman, U. Akkaya 1, E. Erkaplan.

Referees: Alessandro Severo (Italy), Thomas Kovcic (Slovenia).

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