Narrow defeat for Under-21 side to Bosnia Herzegovina in friendly match

The Malta Under-21 side lost 0-1 to Bosnia Herzegovina in a friendly match in Zagreb, Croatia on Friday.

Coach Gilbert Agius made four changes from the defeat against Qatar U23 on Sunday. In goal, San Gwann goalkeeper Cain Formosa replaced Amara Sylla, and players Jamie Sixsmith, Jeremy Micallef and Victor DeGiorgio started in place of Ryan Tonna, Bradley Sciberras and Jamie Carbone.

The boys in red made a promising start and twelve minutes into the game Malta were awarded a penalty following a handball in the box. The penalty, taken by captain Ayrton Attard, was saved by the Bosnian Goalkeeper Nikola Cetkovic. From the rebound Aleandro Garzia saw his effort saved and turned into a corner kick.

Four minutes later, Malta was almost made to pay following a good turn into the box by Elvis Mehanovic, but saw his shot being saved by the brilliant in goal Cain Formosa, who effected a number of good saves throughout the match.

Jeremy Micallef, who also had a very positive game, made a crucial tactical foul to stop Bosnia and Herzegovina from a dangerous counterattack, for which he was shown the yellow card and the opponents were awarded a free kick, from which the Maltese keeper saved comfortably.

Half-way through the first half, the Bosnians were awarded another free-kick following a foul made by Hibernians midfielder Ayrton Attard and received the yellow card. The free kick went straight into the Maltese wall and was easily cleared.

On the 32nd minute, Malta had another great opportunity to open the score. Malta number thirteen, Jeremy Micallef, played a through ball to Aleandro Garzia but his shot was saved by the Bosnian goalkeeper.

37 minutes into the game, a dangerous corner into the box was cleared by the Maltese defenders. The Maryville Saints attacker, Victor DeGiorgio, managed to be first on the ball and won a free kick to give his teammates time to settle and return to shape.

Just before half-time, Bosnia were awarded a free kick in a promising position but failed to seize the occasion as the ball hit the wall and was cleared away from danger by the reds.

Coach Gilbert Agius made his first substitution at half-time as Andreas Vella replaced Zak Grech. Bosnia and Herzegovina put on eleven new players for the second half.

Four minutes into the second-half, Andrija Drljo missed the opportunity to hit the ball from close range, following a tackle timed to perfection by the solid Glenn Attard.

On the 54th minute, Bosnia scored what had to be the only goal of the match. After winning the ball in midfield, David Cavic played a through ball to Anes Masic who, from a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, made no mistake to put the ball into the net.

Four minutes later, Malta came close to equalise the game. DeGiorgio found himself in a very good position, but an extra touch took the ball out of play.

Sixty minutes in, signs of fatigue started kicking in, with the Bosnians gaining more possession of the ball and control of the game. David Cavic made a good run into the box, dribbled past the Maltese but saw his shot at goal go high and wide.

On the 69th minute, the Bosnians thought that they doubled their lead. Following a good passage of play, a through ball was played into the path of Anes Masic who scored again, but the flag was raised for offside.

Maltese defender Karl Mohnani received the yellow card on the 71st minute following a foul after losing the ball whilst playing out from the back.

The reds had another great opportunity to level the score on the 73rd minute. A threatening free kick whipped into the box by captain Ayrton Attard, caused havoc in the opponents box and after a series of shots, the ball was cleared off the line, before Glenn Attard saw his effort from point-blank range go over the bar.

A few minutes later a free kick by Balzan player Marcus Grima was saved by the Bosnian goalkeeper.

On the 83rd minute, Andrija Drlyo dribbled into the box, put in a low dangerous cross, but the Maltese managed to clear with a good interception by Maltese defender Christian Gauci, who had replaced Aleandro Garzia on the 77th minute

MALTA – Cain Formosa, Adam Magri Overand, Zak Grech (Andreas Vella 45), Marcus Grima, Ayrton Attard (C) (Jean Borg 86), Jamie Sixsmith (Bradley Sciberras 77), Aleandro Garzia (Christian Gauci 77), Jeremy Micallef (Jamie Carbone 65), Karl Mohnani (Zak Muscat 86), Glenn Attard (Kurt Theuma 77), Victor DeGiorgio (Gianluca Sciberras 65).

BOSNIA – Nikola Cetkovic, Jovan Pavlovic, Djordje Milojevic, Jasmin Osmic, Marko Kunjundzic, Jovan Ilic, Ivan Basic, Amar Begic, Milan Savic, Hamza Gasal, Elvis Mehanovic.

Referee: Goran Pečarić