Brave Malta survives awful referees’ decisions

Friday, July 1, 2011, 23:33

by Sandro Micallef

Poland – Malta 5-5 (2-1), (1-0), (1-3), (1-1)

A brave comeback in the third session paved way to a merited draw on Friday by the Malta National Waterpolo team against Poland in the last match of the LEN Group A European qualifiers for 2012.

Sergio Afric and Karl Izzo in the background had to battle it out not only against the opponents but against the controversial referees' decisions

The referees of the match were the negative protagonists of this match as they whistled very harsh decisions against the Maltese. In fact female referee Anne Grandin from France and Klaus Lehn from Germany excluded the Malta players no less that twelve times in the game with the majority of them resulting in soft and thus severe expulsions. These decisions throughout the game frustrated Sergio Afric who was even red carded in the dying minutes of the game.

Malta started the game luminously with a fine strike by our left handed Michele Stellini who put Malta a goal up straight away. But then our opponents went on to end the first quarter a goal ahead with Sekula and Leszek who netted a goal each.

The well trained man up situations were not being finalized accordingly by the Maltese who missed some chances from the 2 and 3 man up positions by Gabaretta and Galea respectively.

The second session was a continuation of the tough game we had already witnessed in the first eight minutes of play, with Referees Grandin and Lehn making their whistles heard repeatedly by sending off for 20 seconds, each time a defender tussles with an opponent not only in the centre position. Michele Stellini was the odd one out, as he was sent off with substitution for an inexistent underwater kick which was allegedly seen by the female French referee.

The only goal in session number two was attained by Poland thanks to Luczak to mark the 3-1 advantage in front of the jovial home crowd which totalled circa 900. Alan Borg Cole was instrumental in this session when he saved a couple of hard shots by the opponents. Galea and Gaberretta tried their best whenever the ball reached them in the centre, but they were always tightly marked. Bianchi, Soler, Lanzon and Jordan Camilleri all proved themselves with some fine ball possession and defending. Clint Debono and Timmy Sullivan were being utilised regularly by Afric to help keep a constant rotation in the Pool. Sullivan was sent off twice and had to play parts of the last session with extra caution.

At half time Afric must have injected some additional intensity to his players as the third session proved to be crucial for the end result. Bogliasco’s player Stevie Camilleri listed his name in the score sheet for the first time in the match with an important goal that lifted the morale of his colleagues for 3-2. Robert Sekula put the hosts two goals up again 4-2. A masterpiece by veteran Paul Privitera followed. The Sliema player risked by affecting a powerful shot from almost eight meters and gave fresh hopes again to the blue capped players. Stevie Camilleri with another first class goal levelled the score to 4-4.

The last session prompted Stevie Camilleri to register his personal hat trick and put Malta a goal up 5-4. The Malta stalwart was near to close the game from a surprise penalty that was awarded to us, but unfortunately he was unlucky as he hit the lower end of the post and the ball skimmed away. Luck was not on our end in the final stages of the game as the home side drew 5-5 with a David Luc shot. Afric was eventually sent off for persisting protests and Karl Izzo had to take over  for the remaining 98 seconds of play. Unfortunately the players in the water did not manage to net the ball in the last twelve seconds after Izzo called Malta’s last time out.

Mixed emotions were perceived amongst the players at the final whistle but all in all it was yet another tough and brave battle in water which saw the Maltese players exit from the Szczecin Pool with their heads high up for yet another honest and positive international commitment. Malta now will play the second qualifying round in October.

Aftermatch comments:

“I am proud of the Maltese players. These are real passionate people because even though we played against all odds we still get out of here with our heads up” said an emotional Afric immediately after the game.

Poland: M. Diakonow, M. Scierwicki, M.Krawczyk, D. Luc 1, P.Piatek, P.Szymanski, T.Rozycki, M.Bar, MCzapla, R.Sekula 2, B.Luczak 1, W.Leszek 1, P.Michalski

Malta: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon, J. Gabaretta , P. Privitera 1, T. Sullivan, J. Soler, S. Camilleri 3, J. Camilleri, C. Debono, K. Galea , A. Bianchi, M. Stellini 1, R. Coleiro.


  1. Steve Borg says:

    Prosit lit-tim nazzjonali Malti, Afric u lill-ASA ghal dawn ir-rizultati tajbin.


  2. Santina Camilleri says:

    Well done !!!! :) )))


  3. max farrugia says:

    Issa oqodu ilaquwhom lir referees barranim meta jigu malta


  4. MR.POLO says:

    Well done for the new asa admin but well done also to Afric and all his team. Soler, Lanz, Stevie and all u made us proud again. Forza San Giljan. Well done Bianchi and Galea


  5. Kim says:

    il-KMS se jaghti xi forma ta’ kumpens issa lill-ASA ? Kim


  6. arnold attard says:

    kick some ass now malta players and do not be afriad of the next opponents. well done Mr. Borg for your comments Arnold


  7. ronald says:

    well done malta u made us prod again. hope that asa gets the players to train well ahead of the october games. ronald


  8. Martin borg says:

    strange though it may seem, following last Tuesday’s first class display against th e Turks , this performance made me even prouder as it was achieved against all odds. The Poles, who had billed this match as the qualification decider from our group , prior to our victory over th e Turks, helped by some incredibly biased refereeing and a very vocal partisan crowd were silenced by Malta’s resilient performance particularly in the third and fourth sessions. the crowd’s jubilation at the end made one think that they had won the match not drawn it. Well done to the boys in blue for another sterling performance. You did us all proud once again. Martin Borg – Gen. Sec. ASA


Leave a comment