Category: News

Malta falter after promising first-half showing

KEVIN AZZOPARDI
MFA’S DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

A spiriting first-half showing was not enough for Malta to open their account in Group D of the 2018 European Futsal Championship Preliminary Round as Peter Pullicino’s men conceded a 6-1 defeat to hosts Bulgaria this evening.

The Maltese team, who had also suffered a 6-1 loss to England in their first group game on Tuesday, held their own in the opening period but were unable to convert the chances that came their way.

Jovica Milijic missed an inviting opportunity early on while Xavier Saliba failed to score from the penalty spot on 14 minutes.

Bulgaria, who were beaten 7-1 by Albania in their opening game on Tuesday, had to wait until the 19th minute to open the scoring through Plamen Stoykov.

The hosts sealed their victory in the second half as Stoykov was on target three times to take his tally to four goals while Martin Ivanov and Daniel Nestorov got the other goals.

Malta’s consolation goal was scored by Giancarlo Sammut three minutes from time.

In today’s other game, Albania inflicted a 5-1 defeat on England to maintain their perfect record, in the process securing qualification to the next round of the 2018 Euro Futsal Championship.

Malta face Albania in their final group match on Friday at 4.30pm while Bulgaria and England, both on three points, meet in the other game.

MALTA’S LINE-UP
Matthew Xerxen, Giancarlo Sammut, Jovic Milijic, Mark Zammit, Andy Mangion.
Substitutes: Neil Cuschieri, Carl Azzopardi, Glenn Bonello, Nicola Del Re, George Frendo, Melvin Borg, Xavier Saliba, Dylan Musu, Matthew Attard.

Slick England see off Malta

ROBERT BUSUTTIL
The Maltese national team started their commitments in the Futsal Euro 2018 Preliminary Round Group D tournament as they went down to England 6-1 at the Varna Sports Palace in Bulgaria.
But to their credit Peter Pullicino’s men produced a determined display that saw them equalize four minutes after England managed to surge ahead.
The score remained one-all for the next seven minutes but England gained the upperhand and started scoring at regular intervals to gain a 4-1 advantage before the interval.
The English started the second half with some fancy play but Malta men never lost composure as they produced some sound defensive play and excellent goalkeeper from Matthew Xerxen.
Malta tried to produce a reaction as Peter Pullicino opted for Xavier Saliba as their flying keeper to instill more pressure on the English rearguard.
England did add two more goals to their credit to wrap up victory.
Medina Borges Pinto and Maximilian Kilman were in fine form for the Three Lions as they netted a brace while Luke Ballinger and William Wallace were also on the mark.
Malta’s temporary equalizer came from Andy Mangion.
Malta, led by coach Peter Pullicino, meet hosts Bulgaria in their second game on Wednesday (7pm) while, on the same day, England take on Albania. The Maltese side end their group commitments on Friday with a match against Albania (4.30pm).

England: Croft(GK), Reed, Raoni Medina(C), Cook, Wallace, Sims(GK), Goldstein, Rexha, Kilman, Palfreeman, Bettson, Ballinger, Webb, Ward
Malta: Xerxen(GK), Azzopardi, Bonello, Milijic, Musu, Cuschieri(GK), Sammut, Del Re, Frendo, Borg, Zammit(C), Saliba, Mangion, M. Attard

National futsal squad heads to Bulgaria on Sunday

The Malta futsal team, led by coach Peter Pullicino, will head to Bulgaria this Sunday ahead of their participation in a Futsal Euro 2018 Preliminary Round tournament.

Malta has been drawn in Group D along with England, Albania and Bulgaria with the matches scheduled to be played between Tuesday, January 24 and Friday, January 27 at the Palace of Culture & Sports in Varna.

The Maltese contingent will be headed by Mark Borg, the president of Futsal Malta and MFA Executive Committee member.

Malta’s first game is against England on Tuesday, starting at 4.30pm (Maltese time).

On Wednesday, Pullicino’s team face hosts Bulgaria at 7pm before concluding their group commitments with a match against Albania next Friday (kick-off 4.30pm).

The referees for this four-team tournament are Barton Josip, from Macedonia, Hora Hennadly, from Ukraine, Jaruchiewicz Damian, from Poland, and Estonian Osomkov Grigori.

The squad called up by national futsal coach Peter Pullicino is as follows:

Goalkeepers – Neil Cuschieri (Valletta FC), Matthew Xerxen (Luxol FC).

Defenders – Melvin Borg (Valletta FC), Nicola Del Re (Luxol FC), Jovicia Milijic (Valletta FC), Giancarlo Sammut (Luxol FC), Mark Zammit (Luxol FC).

Forwards – Karl Azzopardi (Luxol FC), Matthew Attard (Luxol FC), Glenn Bonello (Luxol FC), George Frendo (Msida FC), Andy Mangion (Luxol FC), Dylan Musu (Valletta FC), Xavier Saliba (Valletta FC).

TECHNICAL STAFF

Head coach – Peter Pullicino; Team Manager – John Mizzi; Assistant coach – Zeljko Ancic; Team doctor – Daniel McKean; Physiotherapist – Adam Briffa; Kit Manager – Mark Sammut

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photos (C) Joe Borg

San Marino make their point against Malta

ROBERT BUSUTTIL
Malta were held to a 2-2 draw by visitors San Marino in the second international friendly match played at the Corradino Pavillion yesterday.
After grabbing a handsome 4-0 victory in the first match, the Maltese national team had to endure a tough San Marino side who were miles away from the team that was dominated barely 24 hours before.
After almost a tight affair in the first 16 minutes, Peter Pullicino’s side missed the opportunity to surge ahead when Dylan Musu’s shot from the second penalty mark was well blocked by San Marino’s keeper Michele Bollini.
However Malta soon broke the deadlock through a well-taken goal by Xavier Saliba who connected a Giancarlo Sammut’s pass to slot behind San Marino’s keeper.
The latter, however, regained composure to get more into the picture and levelled the score just before half-time through Fabio Gasperoni, who surprised the Maltese rearguard and put the ball at the back of the net..
The equilibrium was maintained throughout the second half with both teams cancelling each other out. Malta then regained the lead through Xavier Saliba who completed his personal brace when he unleashed a piledriver that gave Bollini no chance.
Despite this blow, San Marino refused to throw in the towel as in the dying minutes of the game, Federico Macino sent a low pass that completely caught the Maltese defence unaware and in came Fabio Belloni who stabbed the ball home to the delight of the San Marino clan.
The game finished 2-2, with Malta retaining their unbeaten record against their opponents and San Marino tired but satisfied that they have gained a positive result on away soil.

UNITED WE STAND: Minute silence held before league match

Tuesday’s Gatorade Futsal League game between Hamrun and Sliema observed a minute’s silence to remember those who were killed in the Colombian plane crash.
All those present at the Corradino Sports Pavillion fell silent before kick-off to show their respect.
Of the 81 people who were on board flight LMI2933, 71 are understood to have lost their lives.
All-but three members of the Chapecoense football team and management staff are believed have died when the plane came down in mountains.

Pullicino unveils provisional squad

ROBERT BUSUTTIL

Malta coach Peter Pullicino has announced the provisional squad for the double friendly against San Marino on December 4th and 5th (kick-off 7.00pm) at the Corradino Sports Pavillion.
The players are:
Goalkeepers – Matthew Xerxen (Luxol), Clint Mifsud (Luxol), Neil Cuschieri (Valletta), Matthew Gatt (UOM).
Defenders – Mark Zammit (Luxol), Jovica Milijic (Valletta), Daniel Mifsud (Hamrun), Nicola del Re (Luxol).
Left – Karl Azzopardi (Luxol), Andrea Farrugia (UOM), Jason Mifsud (Hamrun), Christian Wismayer (Swieqi).
Right – Dylan Musu (Valletta), Chris Cardona (Valletta), Melvin Borg (Valletta), Matthew Attard (Luxol), Giancarlo Sammut (Luxol).
Pivots – Xavier Saliba (Valletta), Andy Mangion (Luxol), Luke Stivala (Hamrun), George Frendo (Msida)

The Maltese national team has already played twice last season against this small country and they managed to emerge as winners in both occasions 5-1 and 5-3 on away soil.

Claudio Azzopardi resigns from FMA General Secretary

Unfortunately we have to announce the resignation of Mr. Claudio Azzopardi from his post as General Secretary for personal reasons.

In his short span with FMA, Mr. Azzopardi worked hard during the negotiation period with ASH and was fundamental in the creation of the junior futsal festival, amongst other things.

We would like to thank him for all his valid contribution and wish him all the very best.

Luxol and Valletta face off in Super Cup

ROBERT BUSUTTIL
Valletta and Luxol lock horns at the Corradino Sports Pavilion this evening (kick-off: 20.00) in a match that gives the two teams an opportunity to claim the Super Cup ahead of the new campaign that starts next week.
This match will take place after weeks of speculations and uncertainty about the venue where the local futsal season would be played.
The final will be contested between the Citizens, who were crowned league champions after a positive season and Luxol, the cup holders.
After a hectic pre-season, during which they played in the UEFA Futsal Cup, Valletta will be looking to clinch their first honour of the campaign.
The champions maintained the core of the team that won last year’s championship and their coach, Clayton Felice can bank on several new signings, the likes of Brazilian striker Raphinha, and experienced Maltese players such as Chris Cardona, Gary inguanez, Carlo Scicluna and keeper Stefan Vella.
Asked about some pressure that may pile up on the champions ahead of this match, Valletta’s captain Xavier Saliba thinks that this is not the case as the team wants to keep its humble approach that was fundamental in last year’s league success.
xavier-saliba-futsal
“We have a lot of respect towards our opponents and we must keep our feet on the ground to achieve success.”
Saliba, who has a wealth of experience in such matches, thinks that unity in the squad will be crucial during this match.
“We are not only a team, but a family. We have courage and we never give up. This is the secret to fulfil our aims,” said Saliba
Their opponents, Luxol are ready to make up for last year’s disappointment as they were ousted from the play-offs by their same opponents.
As Brazilian playmaker, Celino Alves said, Luxol are focused for this match.
“We have been working hard to achieve our best fitness for this encounter. It’s clear that both teams will be ready to challenge for this year’s championship.”
“On our part, we are ready to achieve our objectives but we need not to put pressure in ourselves.”
Alves, who will play his third season with the St Andrews outfit, hails the great atmosphere that surrounds his team.
“The environment is positive. We want to do well and we are ready for our future challenges.”
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Luxol have secured the services of Matthew Xerxen, Clint Mifsud, Giancarlo Sammut, Nicola del Re and Romanian international Emil Andrei Raducu.
It is still early to make an assessment of a team’s strength but judging from their latest acquisitions both teams are expected to rank among the contenders for the 2016-17 honours.
This match is a repeat of last year’s Super Cup final when Luxol saw off the Citizens 9-5.

Fr. Hilary Tagliaferro supports FMA

Fr. Hilary Tagliaferro the president and the founder of the Youth Football Association expressed his support to the Futsal Malta Association. Back in the 1960`s he was one of the first persons who started the five a side football at Tarxien Oratory. Having had this experience, he started to include small sided games during the training sessions. Fr. Hilary now believes that Futsal may fulfill an important and beneficial role towards the football game in many aspects. He urges the local authorities to provide the best possible help and to assure the growth of futsal continues to improve in the near future.

Claudio Azzopardi appointed new FMA’s General Secretary

Following the nominations for the post of General Secretary, only one nomination was received. The Futsal Malta Association can officially declare that Mr. Claudio Azzopardi is the new General Secretary.
Mr. Azzopardi, who hails from Ħal Lija, has been involved in football for the last twelve years. He gained experience in the field of youth coaching following spells with Lija / Iklin Nursery and Pieta` Hotspurs Youth Nursery. He works at the National Sports School, and is in his final year for his Degree Bsc in Sports and Active Lifestyle. His knowledge and experience along these years will help to raise the association standards and will be a main contributor to promote the futsal game.
Claudio’s vision is to establish Futsal as the preferred version of five-a-side football in Malta and to increase / sustain participation at all ages and ability levels by promoting and developing the game as a complementary format of football within the football family.
Claudio will aim to increase the awareness of futsal by promoting the game and creating quality resources to introduce the game. Introduce futsal at all levels of the game from children to adults through the implementation of quality grassroots futsal programmes.
Increase the knowledge of futsal among the wider football family through the creation of education programmes for players, coaches, referees and administrators.
Develop an administrative structure capable of implementing and servicing the above objectives.
We wish Claudio Azzopardi most of luck and welcome him in the futsal family.