The Malta Futsal national team made amends for Friday’s disappointing performance against England with a spirited and competitive showing in the third place play-off match of the quadrangular Futsal International Tournament organised by the Football Association in Hereford.
Facing Finland, a team ranked 51 places above them in the Futsal FIFA rankings, Vic Hermans’ squad was in for what everyone expected to be a one-sided match. However, the Maltese raised their game and matched the Finns for long periods of the contest.
Both teams had good opportunities to go ahead in what turned out to be a fiercely contested first half. The Finns took the lead thanks to a Jani Modig strike (11′), while Tuomas Kallioinen in goal thwarted efforts from Melvin Borg and David Smith. The Maltese were organised in defence and gave very little away, keeping the score at 1-0 in what was turning out to be a surprisingly balanced match. They were unlucky to concede early in the second half, with Panu Autio (22′) and Ville Lindgren (25′) putting the Finns 3-0 up. Kallioinen saved shots from Melvin Borg and Xavier Saliba, David Smith’s strike went narrowly wide, while Jonathan Magri Overend’s deft flick hit the crossbar, denying the Maltese a consolation goal they would have more than thoroughly deserved.