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Afric selects his team for Turkey

Posted By SportInMalta On April 25, 2010 @ 11:34 am In Featured,Waterpolo | 9 Comments

Malta will be particiapting  in the European Championships Men’s Qualification Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey between 30 April and 2nd May 2010. Malta is pitted against Spain, Slovakia and Turkey in Group A.

In order to have a permanent pool of players available, Mr Sergio Afric, on ASA instructions, chose a larger than normal squad made up of 25 players from which eventually the final thirteen players would be chosen for any upcoming international event. The first group of players chosen are:

Alan Borg Cole – Exiles Alex Attard – Sirens
Alex Bianchi – Sliema Brian Buhagiar – Neptunes
Clint Debono – Sliema Daniel Paolella – Sliema
Jerome Gabaretta – Neptunes John Brownrigg – Sliema
John Soler – Sliema Jurgen Borg – Sirens
Mark Meli – Sliema Matthew Zammit – San Giljan
Michael Rizzo – Sliema Michele Stellini – Neptunes
Nicolai Lubrano – Sliema Nikki Gouder – Neptunes
Nikki Lanzon – Neptunes Paul Privitera – Sliema
Peter Borg – Sirens Ryan Coleiro – Sliema
Ryan Mock – Sirens Sean Gravina – Neptunes
Steve Camilleri – Neptunes Timmy Sullivan – Exiles
Jordan Camilleri – Neptunes

The bulk of the players come from the holds of Sliema and Neptunes with the former having 10 players chosen and the latter 8. Sirens and Exiles had 4 and 2 players chosen respectively and 1 player was chosen from San Giljan.

Selection problems for Afric – Steve Camilleri not part of national squad

Neptunes selection of 8 players got depleted to 2 players for work and other reasons. The most noticeable loss from Neptunes side is naturally Steve Camilleri who plays in Italy. Both the General Secretary and the President of the Association contacted Steve a number of times but, quoting various reasons, Steve opted to remain outside the national selection. The absence of Steve Camilleri, besides being a great disappointment to the ASA has also disrupted Sergio Afric’s strategic plans that will surely be felt by the team in general.

Matthew Pisani, another Neptunes player, also opted to stay out of the national team due to work problems.

Sliema’s selection of 10 players was reduced by only 4 players but this was influenced by the 6 Neptunes players that had to withdraw.

Regular light training started early in the year and, following initial space problems, training intensification took place during the month of April – requests made to KMS to extend the closing time of the pool by one hour during the month of April to ease the training problems produced no reactions.

Such a large pool of players has been questioned by many but this was made with Malta’s future and frequent international commitments in mind. Such a pool of players would eventually help to solve work related withdrawals as we have already had the occasion to experience: Neptunes player Steve Camilleri was replaced by another Neptunes players Sean Gravina who also had to pull out, due to work reasons , with the final choice falling on Sirens young player Alex Attard.

The new state-of-affairs with regard to the national team does not appear to have been fully understood.

Young squad for Malta

The young players that have been called up to form part of the national squad have began to be groomed into national water polo players – they have replaced long serving national water polo players Jonathan Valletta and Josie Cachia and will eventually replace other long serving players who are, in the meantime, helping with their grooming; a number of these young players shall see action for the first time in Istanbul.

Sergio Afric, last Monday chose a somewhat fresh Final 13 players that shall be travelling to Istanbul, Turkey next Thursday, 29 April where they will participate in European Championships Men’s Qualification Tournament . His choice fell on:

Joe Borg Cole
Alex Bianchi
Timmy Sullivan
Nikki Lanzon
Michele Stellini
Matthew Zammit
Alex Attard
Jurgen Borg
John Brownrigg
Clint Debono
Mark Meli
Paul Privitea
John Soler

Peter Decesare and Pierre Borg shall accompany the team, the former as Assistant Coach and the latter as the Team’s physio.

Malta earned a place in the Qualification Tournament of the European Championship after having finished sixth in Lugano, Switzerland, last September, placing after Turkey, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Slovenia.

Malta came up against strong opposition made up of Spain, Slovakia and the hosts, Turkey that make up Group A. The other countries that shall be playing during the same week-end are Macedonia, Greece, France and Slovenia in Group B and Romania, Russia, the Netherlands and Great Britain in Group C. The top two from each Group shall qualify to join the top six nations, namely, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro and Serbia in the championships that shall take place in Zagreb in September.

The Programme in Istanbul:

Friday, April 30: 6pm Malta vs Spain – 8pm Turkey vs Slovakia
Saturday, May 1: 5.30pm Turkey vs Malta – 7pm Spain vs Slovakia
Sunday, May 2: 10am Slovakia vs Malta – Noon Turkey Spain

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