The Malta waterpolo national team play their final match at the European Championship finals when they face Israel in a play-off to avoid the bottom spot in Dubrovnik on Saturday (start: 11.15am).
Milan Cirovic’s clan were left distraught on Thursday night after suffering a 10-8 defeat to Slovenia that ended any hopes they had of matching or even improving the national team’s best-ever placing of 14th place achieved in Serbia two years ago.
Now, the national team will have the chance to partially atone that disappointment with victory in Saturday’s re-match against Israel.
This is the second time the two teams face each other during the championship in Croatia. Last week, the Maltese youngsters came back from three goals down to overcome Israel 13-11.
This time around, the Malta youngsters have no margin of error against the Israelites and surely cannot afford another slow start to the match if they are harbouring any hopes of ending the championships on a winning note and, more importantly, avoiding the bottom spot in the 16-team competition.
Malta coach Cirovic will welcome back in the fray Mark Castillo who was forced to miss out on the team’s last two fixtures against Serbia and Slovenia after his red card in the group match against Israel.
Sam Gialanze is out of Saturday’s match after having returned to Malta due to illness. At the same time, it is hoped that Nicholas Bugelli and Liam Galea, who were not fully fit against Slovenia, will have recovered in time for this crucial match.
No doubt, Malta must show a significant improvement in attack if they are to look for a victory against Israel.
Against Slovenia, the team lost several scoring opportunities and surely they must recover their cutting edge in front of goal for the best possible ending.
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