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Malta to face Italy, Netherlands and France in Euro warm-up

The Malta national team are stepping up their preparations for the European Championship finals. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Tournament best preparation for continental finals, says Izzo

The Malta waterpolo national team will warm up for their upcoming participation in the European Championship finals when they host a high-profile quadrangular tournament between December 28 and 30 at the indoor pool at the Cottonera Sports Complex.

The Aquatic Sports Association of Malta (ASA) will be hosting the first edition of the SportMalta Waterpolo Christmas Cup which will see Milan Cirovic’s national team come up against some high-profile opposition in the form of Italy, the Netherlands and France.

ASA president Karl Izzo told a news conference on Friday that he was grateful for the assistance of SportMalta and VisitMalta to organise this tournament which will provide the best possible preparation for the team ahead of their fifth participation in the continental finals.

“We are really proud to be hosting this tournament that will bring to our islands three formidable opponents that will give the best possible preparation for the European Championship finals,” Izzo said.

“Waterpolo enthusiasts in Malta are used to seeing high-profile players plying their trade in our domestic championship but we have never had three national teams of the calibre of Italy, France and the Netherlands playing here.

“I am sure that all waterpolo enthusiasts will be filling Cottonera Pool to see so many high-profile players.”

The ASA chief said that Cirovic would start preparations for the tournament this weekend after naming a 25-man squad who are vying for a place in the continental finals that will be played in Croatia next month.

“This is the best possible preparation that a waterpolo national team will have undergone before a European Championship finals,” Izzo said.

“Our goal is that this year we improve on the 14th-placing we achieved in the last edition played also in Croatia. This tournament will pit us against top-level opponents and hopefully will put us in a great position to be at our best for the tournament opener against Germany.”

SportMalta’s vision

The ASA president reiterated his gratitude to SportMalta who have financed the acquisition of top-level apparel to be used for all aquatic sport disciplines in Malta.

On his part, Omar Farrugia, the new chairman of SportMalta said: “SportMalta has always been that entity that worked closely with Maltese sporting clubs and associations. It is SportMalta’s vision that we provide the best possible sporting facilities and the new indoor pool at the Cottonera Sports Complex is another proof of our commitment to ideal venues for our athletes.

“It’s our goal to continue to invest in Maltese athletes to ensure they can achieve more excellent results on the international scene.”

On his part, Mark Cutajar, the SportMalta CEO, said that the organisation of this waterpolo tournament forms part of the entity’s strategy to hold more top-level events in Malta.

“This waterpolo tournament that features three top national teams is just the start for us as we are already planning to host a high-profile handball tournament in the coming months,” Cutajar said.

“The organisation of this waterpolo tournament at the Cottonera Pool takes further significance when one considers that this event will pave the way for World Aquatics to certify this venue to international standards and we can host more top events there.

“Added to that, I want to point out that all proceeds from this tournament will go directly to the ASA coffers to help make them more financially sustainable.”

On his part, Clifton Grima, the Minister for Education and Sport, said: “The government has been investing a lot in the last few years to improve sports infrastructure in Malta and we are committed to continuing this trend.

“The ASA has a clear vision and the fact that they succeeded in leading the national team to five successive European Championship finals is proof of that. There is no doubt we will continue to support such ambitious federations and hopefully, this tournament can leave a lasting legacy on Maltese sport.”

The tournament will be officiated by Maltese referees and tickets are already out on sale and can be acquired from the ASA website.

PROGRAMME

DECEMBER 28
Malta vs Italy 18.00
Netherlands vs France 19.45

DECEMBER 29
Malta vs France 18.00
Italy vs Netherlands 19.45

DECEMBER 30
Malta vs Netherlands 18.00
Italy vs France 19.45

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