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ASA ready to host world’s best waterpolo clubs, says president Karl Izzo

The National Pool will be transformed into a world-class venue for the Champions League Final Four.

Champions League Final Four to be played between Wednesday and Friday at National Pool

All eyes of the waterpolo world will be on the Tal-Qroqq National Pool this week when the Aquatic Sports Association of Malta will be hosting for the first time ever the Champions League Final Four between Wednesday and Friday.

Italy’s Pro Recco, winners of the competition for the past three seasons, will be looking to defend their title when they face Olympiacos in the opening semi-final on Wednesday at 7pm and will be followed by the clash between Ferencvaros and Novi Belgrade which starts at 9pm.

During the past week, the ASA has been working hard to transform its National Pool to world standards and in fact the waterpolo fans heading to the venue this week will find a completely transformed site.

“Preparations for this tournament have now reached the final phase,” ASA president Karl Izzo told the Times of Malta.

“All the fans who will attend these matches will find in front of them a completely different venue as the pool will have extra seats, and a better lighting system while we are also installing a 25m Video Wall which will give the opportunity to spectators to see the best highlights of the match.

“Everything is ready for us to host one of the world’s biggest waterpolo competitions. To make sure everything is ready, on Monday we will be hosting the SportMalta Cup, which will be contested by the top four teams of the Winter League, namely San Ġiljan, Sliema, Neptunes and Sirens.

“This tournament will be a dress rehearsal for the Champions League Final Four and we will try out all the equipment, including the VAR system that will be used for the first time in our country.”

World-class players

ASA chief Izzo said that for Maltese waterpolo enthusiasts the tournament will be providing them with an opportunity to watch the world’s best players in front of their eyes.

“This tournament will bring against each other the world’s top four clubs,” Izzo said.

“We will have among us world-class players competing in this competition. These include some familiar faces like Aaron Younger, who last season was on the books of San Ġiljan, and will play for Pro Recco, Olympiacos powerhouse Dimitrios Dimou, who will play for Sliema this summer and Alvaro Granados, who is seen as one of the best players in the world and is on the books of Novi Belgrade.

“If you look at the Pro Recco roster they are almost composed of the Italian national team so we’re talking of some of the world’s best talent.”

Malta will be hosting the tournament for the next three years and Izzo said that it was crucial that this tournament is successfully as there is the image of Malta at stake.

“It’s crucial that this tournament is a success, not only for the Aquatic Sports Association but for the image of Malta in general,” the ASA president said.

“This has been my dream from the beginning and I’m grateful to the European Aquatics to have entrusted the organisation of this tournament to us and towards SportMalta, spearheaded by CEO Mark Cutajar, and VisitMalta for their constant support. This tournament is the best advert for Maltese waterpolo but more importantly our country can ever receive.

“The Champions League Final Four will be televised in five different countries and with this tournament staged here for the next three years we need to ensure that it leaves a lasting legacy that befits the sport on our islands.

“This is not the last international tournament to be staged in Malta as between June 18 and 24 we will be hosting the U-16 World Championships with the participation of 32 teams, with matches played in two different venues.

“On the other hand, on June 28 the European Junior Artistic Swimming Championships will also be staged at the National Pool. So it will be a very hectic month but we will do our best to make sure we provide the best spectacle possible.”

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