In view of the Futsal EURO qualifiers in programme later this month, Malta played two friendly matches against Bulgaria at the National Sports School.
Following a 2-2 draw in the first match on Sunday, the Malta futsal team secured a psychological boost as they had the better of Bulgaria 3-1 in the second friendly match on Monday.
On Sunday, led for the first time by newly-appointed coach Zeljko Anicic, Malta produced a commendable performance in a 2-2 draw. The result is a very positive one considering the difference between the two nations in action with Malta currently lying in 111th place whereas Bulgaria are 16 places higher in 95th in the Futsal World Ranking.
The score was also level until the interval 1-1 with Luxol forward Andy Mangion breaking the deadlock, hence giving an early lead to Malta, before Bulgaria bounced back and levelled the score midway through the half with veteran Boycho Marev slotting the ball past Malta keeper Brandon Debono.
In the second period, the game remained balanced with Bulgaria going ahead through Aleksey Stepanov, but Malta showed resilience and their efforts reaped rewards with an equaliser mid-way through the second half when Dylan Musu converted his penalty to make the final score 2-2.
The 2-2 draw follows the Malta futsal team’s comeback performance in a 3-3 draw against Armenia in their last outing in October.
On Monday evening, the second and final Bulgaria friendly for the Malta futsal team – kick off time 19.00 – as preparations intensify prior to the UEFA Futsal Euro 2022 Qualifying Group C in Malta. The tournament kicks off on Wednesday next week with Poland, Sweden and Greece the other countries in the group.
MALTA Brandon Debono (GK), Giancarlo Sammut, Carl Azzopardi, Andy Mangion, Aidan Micallef.
Subs: Stefan Vella (GK), Jovica Milijic, Melvin Borg, Dylan Musú, Karl Sciortino, André Ciancio, George Frendo, Firaz Abouleez, Aaron Montebello.
BULGARIA Ismet Idrizov Hadzhiev (GK), Boycho Todorov Marev, Vladimir Atanasov Baharov, Plamen Mikov Stoykov, Marko Kostich.
Subs: Stanislav Dimitrov Ivanon (GK), Petar Miroslav Petrov, Dimitar Kostadinov Tsvetanov, Martin Biserov Stoykov, Dobrin Valentinov Mihaylov, Aleksey Anatoliev Stepanov, Pavlin Konstantinov Kuzov, Martin Krasimirov Nedkov, Yulian Evelinov Spasov.
Referees: David Balzan, Pierre Bonnici
In the second match, the Maltese side reacted strongly in the second half after trailing 1-0 at half-time. Firaz Aboulezz equalised at the start of the second period after receiving a fine cross from captain Mark Zammit with Dylan Musù putting the home team ahead for the first time with three minutes and 36 second left, curling a free-kick past Bulgaria goalkeeper Stanislav Ivanov and into the top corner.
A minute later, Malta wrapped up their win thanks to Marwan Telissi’s half-volley. Bulgaria’s first-half goal was scored by Yulian Spasov.
In the UEFA Futsal Euro Tournment, to be staged at the National Sports School, Malta will kick off their commitments against Sweden on Wednesday, January 29 at 17.00 before taking on Greece the following day, also at 17.00. The last group match is against Poland on Saturday, February 1 at 19.00.
MALTA Clint Mifsud, Marwan Telissi, Giancarlo Sammut, Carl Azzopardi, Andy Mangion.
Subs: Stefan Vella, Jovica Milijic, Melvin Borg, Dylan Musu, Andrè Ciancio, George Frendo, Firaz Aboulezz, Aaron Montebello, Mark Zammit.
BULGARIA Stanislav Dimitrov Ivanov, Boycho Marev, Aleksey Stepanov, Pavlin Kuzov, Marko Kostich.
Subs: Ismet Hadzhiev, Petar Petrov, Dimitar Tsvetanov, Martin Stoykov, Vladimir Baharov, Plamen Stoykov, Martin Nedkov, Yulian Spasov.
Referees: Clinton Cassar, Jonathan Mallia, Peter Abela