Malta placed second in the 4th Malta International Futsal Tournament which was held at the AS Hibernians Corradino Pavillion after beating Gibraltar 1-0 in the last game on Monday.
The tournament kicked-off on Friday with Malta losing 1-4 to Serbia. The latter who are ranked 19th in the world rankings, dominated the match with Malta operating on some counter attacks. Serbia went three goals ahead during the first half thanks to a brace by Vladimir Milosavac and a goal by Mladen Kocic. Malta managed to reduce the score thanks to a quickfire goal by Nicola del Re. In the second half, Malta played better but found the Serbia rearguard in fine form as they did not allow the Maltese side cause any trouble. One minute from the end, Mladen Kocic completed the brace to give Serbia the first important points of this tournament.
On Sunday, Serbia’s flair and invention proved too much for Gibraltar as they fell to a 10-2 defeat.
After beating Malta in the opening game, the team led by Aca Kovacevic imposed their superiority upon Gibraltar who tried to operate with counter attacks. The Gibraltar custodian, Kyle Goldwin was kept busy by the swift and quick Serbian players who were a continuous menace to his defensive department.
Serbia were quickly in the ascendancy as Mladen Kocic finished off a slick passing move at the back post in just the second minute. They dominated possession during the remainder of the half and duly scored their second goal through Slobodan Janjic. Gibraltar were back in contention when Lee Buhagiar found the net from close distance to make it 2-1. However Serbia reacted furiously and a brace from Milos Simic and another goal from Mladen Kocic installed a four-goal lead for the Serbians. Two minutes from the break, Christian Sanchez scored Gibraltar’s second goal to reduce the arrears.
In the second half, Serbia outplayed their opponents and managed to score five goals without reply through a hat-trick by Nikola Matijevic, Slobodan Janjic and Milos Simic to rubberstamp victory.
On Monday, a solitary goal by Matteo Desira Buttigieg early in the second half gave Malta the three points and hence enabled Mark Marlow’s boys to finish second in the standings ahead of the same Gibraltar and behind tournament winners Serbia.
It was a spirited performance from the Maltese futsal players who despite suffering their opponents’ continuous attacks in the first half, kept their composure and with the help of the inspirational goalkeeper Nicholas Farrugia, on his debut with the national team, managed to keep their goalpost intact before the break.
In the second half, Malta played better and began to test Gibraltar’s reserve goalkeeper Christian Wink. The numerous supporters present at the Corradino Pavillion had good reason to celebrate on 24 minutes when Matteo Desira Buttigieg received a good pass from Malta’s captain Nicola del Re to slot home the ball which proved to be the winning goal.
After the goal, Gibraltar kept piling more pressure on Malta’s rearguard especially when they used the flying keeper to strengthen their offensive department. However some brilliant saves by Nicholas Farrugia saved the day for Malta to score a precious victory that will go a long way in boosting the team’s spirits ahead of the European Qualifiers tournament in two months time.