Malta soars above Turkey in the pool

Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 21:08

by Sandro Micallef

European Waterpolo Championships Men 2012 – Qualification Round Group A

Malta 8 – Turkey 7
(2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 1-2)

Jerome Gabaretta scoring one of Malta's goals

Click here to view a photogallery of this game

The Maltese national waterpolo team managed a very important and merited 8-7 victory against Turkey in their Group A qualifying round match of the European Championships. It was sweet revenge for the Maltese who earlier in the competition had fallen 15-3 to the same Turkish team in the away leg.

Malta therefore progresses to the next round of the European Championship next October.

This victory, that was registered in front of a good crowd, gives Afric and Izzo now the opportunity to test new tactics during this Friday’s away match when we play against Poland, with the qualification for the next round already in hand.

Turkey went a goal up from the five meter mark through Cagatay just after 90 seconds of play, but the same player missed the opportunity to score again from yet another penalty won by the Turks’ centre forward. Cagatay hit the crossbar. Karl Galea, from a man up opportunity, levelled the score for Malta and from another man up situation, Stevie Camilleri scored to put Malta ahead 2-1 seconds before the end of the first session.

Malta opened the second quarter by playing zone, leaving space for the Turks shooters to try their luck and try to beat Alan Borg Cole (who had a magnificent performance) from outside the seven metre area. Yilmaz beat Borg Cole from the Turks left hand side to make the score 2-2. Sinan Turunc’s men took the opportunity from a freak shot by Malta which led to a comfortable goal by Yakimovic who gave Borg Cole no chance for the 3-2 for our opponents. Malta reacted immediately and Stevie Camilleri fired a powerful shot from circa eight meters to put the both sides on a level terms, 3-3.

The home crowd extended their jubilation after Andrea Bianchi netted the ball from position number 1 from another man up situation. Malta continued to defend well by using continuous blocks thus forcing the Turks to shoot almost nearly in the last 5-3 seconds of their possession. A perfect pass by Nicki Lanzon was not converted by Karl Galea who had unmarked himself bravely just outside the two meter area in front of the Turks’ keeper. In the dying moments of the second session Exiles’ keeper Alan Borg Cole managed another wonderful save when we were defending a man down situation so that Malta went for the standard half-time talk a goal up 4-3.

The third session saw Malta for the first time register a two goal lead thanks to a Michele Stellini goal where we had an extra player in the water following Sonmez’s exclusion. The opponents, who were seeking to finish on top of group A, got a goal back to make it 5-4, from a man up netted by Beskardesler. Malta’s talented and inform player Stevie Camilleri put his name on the score sheet for the third time with another goal and gave Malta another two goal margin.

The turning point of the game followed as the Turks missed a double man up when Malta had Paul Privitera and Stevie Camilleri in the exclusion area. Cagatay gave some more oxygen to the Turks with a brilliant finish for 6-5 but it was not meant to be the day for the Turks as Neptunes’ left handed Michele Stellini had enough courage and was accurate to beat keeper Sezer for 7-5 from position 1 in a man up situation for Malta. The last seconds of the third session confirmed that Malta always had the better edge over the opponents.

A John Soler genuine mistake paved the way for the Turks to get a goal back through Yakimovic in the first seconds of session four. Malta’s captain Soler immediately made up for the previous situation by handing a perfect invitational pass to Jerome Gabaretta who was in position 3 from another man up situation to flicked home the killer goal. The Turks had utilized all their ammunition and their tactics seemed predictable at this time of the game for Afric . They pulled another goal back from a penalty awarded after an Andrea Bianchi foul. Beskardesler managed to beat Borg Cole to make the score 8-7. There was no time left and the last 28 seconds saw Malta give the ball to Stevie Camilleri who was almost next to Borg Cole and kept possession till the end of the fourth session.

Scenes of joy were  witnessed both on the deck and also on the stands as now Malta plays with less pressure in Poland, and awaits their opponents for the October home and away games. We can be paired against Spain, Greece, Germmany or Bulgaria. Let us keep on dreaming for Eindhoven 2012.

Click here to view a photogallery of this game

Malta: A. Borg Cole, N. Lanzon, J. Gabaretta 1, P. Privitera, T. Sullivan, J. Soler, S. Camilleri 3, J. Camilleri, C. Debono, K. Galea 1, A. Bianchi 1, M. Stellini 2, R. Coleiro.

Turkey: A. Sezer, N. Sonmez, R. Yakimovic 1, O. Okman 1, A. Yilmaz 1, E. Coskun, S. Hakyemez, Y. Hantal, A. Yegin, A. Sonmez, H. Beskardesler 2, A. Cagatay 2, T. Guveli.

Referees:  J. Cisneros (Spain) and M. Kourecas (Greece)


  1. Andrew Paris, President Exiles SC says:

    Well done Malta. All lovers of Maltese Sports, especially the waterpolo community, is proud of this team and its achievements. Well done to the ASA and technical staff but especially to all the players who put down their domestic rivalries to achieve tremendous things TOGETHER. Let us keep investing time and resources in this fascinating sport which has given and will keep on giving great satisfaction. And for all those doom merchants who have been saying that waterpolo is dying in Malta. It is not … it is very much alive and it is up to all of us to ride on the crest of this wave for the good of the game we all love.


  2. Malta Star says:

    “We recognise the ongoing success being achieved by Camilleri for Bogliasco in Italy but, unfortunately, he did not make our list of finalists as he did not feature for the national team in international matches against Poland and Turkey in 2010.  The general public has to know that a fundamental selection criteria to make the finals is to render service for the national team which Camilleri failed to do notwithstanding invitations from the ASA who tried their utmost to convince the player to make himself available.” – Sandro Micallef on the 3rd of February 2010.

    Sandro I hope you were watching closely last evening, and I hope you realised that Number 7 white of Malta was a certain Stevie Camilleri, who led the Maltese to a historic victory with a brilliant performance.  I’m afraid the Ghaqda Gurnalisti Sport can not come up with any more excuses to deprive and deny Stevie of competing for (and eventually possibly winning) the award of Maltese sportsmen of the year.  Besides being the top-scorer in Malta every year (bar one year where he missed most of the season through injury), and winning 3 leagues in the last 5 years, may you be reminded that he is also competing in the top waterpolo league in the world (equivalent to the Spanish, Italian, or English football league top divisions).  Not only does he compete in this league, but he is a key player of a team that came 4th in such a league, by scoring over 40 goals each season.

    Now he has also played a big hand in Malta’s important victory, and no doubt  he will also play a big hand in Friday’s game against Poland, and eventually in the double-header in October.  How can you now possibly deny him the opportunity to compete (and win) the Maltese sportsmen of the year?  Please enlighten us and explain how you can omit a professional player who achieves so much whether locally, internationally, and also with his national team.

    On another note, the Maltese team yesterday put in a brilliant performance.  Sergio Afric again proved that he is a brilliant coach: the team was tactically perfect, stifling the opponents attacks and scoring more than half of their man-ups.  The team also showed great team-spirit and unity, which is quite an achievement considering the great rivalry between the local teams during the summer league.  Alan Borg Cole proved he is a top goalkeeper, and at the young age of 21 has a great future ahead. Niki Lanzon and John Soler played with great leadership, while Stevie played a great game by scoring three, but by also gaining many exclusions, and by being an all-round team player.  Well done to the whole team, you made Malta proud!!!


    sandro Reply:

    Malta Star just forget about this issue and do not get stuck in the past. Just well done to Stevie and ALL the players for yesterday’s match. Let us all be proud of this group. Sandro Micallef


  3. il malti says:

    viva malta !!
    u well done lil karl galea u bianchi 


  4. 123 says:

    considering your self proclaimed professionalism and credit it would have been better to keep international games free of charge no matter how small the fee.


    Martin borg Reply:

    Dear 123 you have to decide. It’s either free of charge or small fee. If the latter is the case then may I venture to say that two euro for an international match is about as low as one can go. As for the first part of your contribution I fail to understand what you mean by ‘self declared professionalism and credit’. Perhaps you could enlighten us further !!!!

    Martin Borg ASA Gen.Secretary


  5. martin borg says:

    To all the boys in white today, a heartfelt welldone, for having qualified to the next round with a game to spare. It was a five star performance all round, with every man jack pulling his weight to ensure that the technical staff’s tactics were executed to perfection. A pity that this performance did not have the audience it deserved both in numbers and vocal support. No matter. Well done lads. You did Malta proud today. Now let’s go and end our committments in Poland on the same note.

    Martin Borg – Gen Secretary ASA


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