The waterpolo national team coach Milan Cirovic has urged his players to believe more in themselves as Malta will go in search of their first win in the European Championship finals when they face Israel in Zagreb on Sunday afternoon (start: 5pm).
The Maltese youngsters produced a battling performance in their tournament opener on Friday against Germany which saw them share the exchanges with their far superior opponents for much of the opening two sessions.
However, in the third session, the Germans punished the Maltese slack defending to take a decisive five-goal lead which they preserved till the end to secure an 18-13 win.
Still, the Maltese players left the pool with their heads held high after their spirited display and Cirovic said that felt his team could have achieved more if they believed more in themselves.
“After the game with Germany, I was sad because this young team didn’t fully believe in itself,” Cirovic told the Times of Malta.
“At this level, we cannot allow ourselves to easily concede goals and make initial mistakes. We could see a much better game in attack, with a lot of movement and we circulated the ball well.
“But in defence we lacked more cohesion and concentration. All this is part of the process that this young team must go through in order to gain the necessary experience at the highest level.”
Today, the Maltese youngsters have the chance to pick up their first points in the competition when they face Israel.
The Israeli national team endured a difficult start to their campaign after they suffered a comprehensive 22-1 defeat to title favourites Serbia on Friday.
While one cannot underestimate the threat posed by the Israelis, however, the Maltese should believe more in themselves that this is a match much more within their reach than the one against Germany as today’s opponents are of more or less the same level of our national team.
A win against Israel will not only ensure that Malta avoids bottom spot in the Group C but more importantly put them in a better position in the positional play-offs where they hope to at least repeat the result of two years ago when the national team placed 14th in Europe.
Cirovic said that he hopes that his players will use today’s match as an opportunity to show that they are at the European Championships not by chance and are ready to fight in every match.
“We are waiting for the match with Israel, prepared with a lot of desire to fight and to show that we are not here by chance,” the Montenegrin coach said.
“I think we have a good chance to get a good and positive result in that game. With more sacrifices in defence and with an attack that was very good against Germany, we can hope for victory against Israel.”
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