Futsal: Malta improves but suffers defeat to Sweden

Malta produced an improved performance in their second 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup Group E (Preliminary Round) match against hosts Sweden who emerged 5-1 winners at the Estrad Alingsås in Alingsås on Thursday.

This win moved the hosts level with Belgium on six points at the top of Group E following the latter’s 6-2 win over Armenia earlier in the day. On Wednesday, Belgium opened their commitments with a 12-0 win over Malta.

The second match against Sweden was always going to be a difficult test for Malta but our players, led by Dutch coach Vic Hermans, raised their game and also managed to open their scoring account.

Sweden had a strong start, scoring three early goals in the first six minutes through Fehim Smajlovic, Mattin Atai, and Petrit Zhubi.

Late in the half, Malta’s Neil Cauchi missed a good chance as his fierce shot was blocked by the Swedish goalkeeper.

In the second period, the Malta players enjoyed more possession and looked more composed on the ball as they strove to make a reaction. Captain Mark Zammit was twice denied by the Swedish keeper.

Cauchi had another inviting chance on 28 minutes but Malta’s bold efforts finally produced a goal as captain Zammit hit the target after 08”20 seconds of the second half.

In the closing stages, Hermans used the flying keeper to try and put more pressure on Sweden but the Scandiniavians sealed the issue with two late goals through Mattin Atai and Nima Kadivar.

All in all a commendable performance from our boys who now turn their focus on their final Group E match on Saturday against Armenia.

MALTA Clint Mifsud, Jovica Milijic, Andy Mangion, Mark Zammit, Neil Cauchi.
Stefan Vella, George Frendo, Matthew Attard, Karl Sciortino, Lee Grech, Shataizan Zarb, Andrè Ciancio, Rennie Tanti, Giancarlo Sammut.

SWEDEN Christopher Solberg, Albert Hiseni, Fehim Smajlovic, Petrit Zhubi, Fredrik Soderqvist.
Robin Armandt, Carl Lext, Mahmoud Abed Al Mouti, Emilio Rossi, Mattin Atai Najafi, Nima Kadivar, Kristian Legiec, Simon Chekroun, Fredrik Johnsson.