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Qatar U-23 too strong for Malta U-21s as Agius debut ends in defeat

MALTA U-21         0

QATAR U-23         5

Jabdulsallam 22

Bousaf 39

Alhasia 83, 89 pen.

Al-Yazidi 85 pen.


A.Sylla; A. Magri Overend, Z. Grech, J. Carbone, M. Grima, A. Attard, R. Tonna, A. Garzia, K. Mohnani, G. Attard, B. Sciberras.

Subs used: A. Vella, J. Sixsmith, J. Micallef, V. DeGiorgio, G. Sciberras, C. Formosa, C. Gauci, K. Scerri.


Y. Balideh; Y. Farahat, B. Ellethy, E. Palangi, A. Karami, J. Abdulsallam, M. Mashal, A. Syahputra, R. Boussafi, A. Alganehi, L. Madjer.

Referee Ante Culjak (Croatia FA).

Yellow cards Madjer.

Gilbert Agius’ tenure as Malta U-21’s coach started with a 5-0 defeat against the U-23’s selection Qatar in a warm-up match, in Croatia.

The U-21’s team – who were playing their first game since November 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – are currently in a training camp which will see them play Bosnia-Herzegovina, next Friday.

For this preparation camp ahead of next September’s opening U-21 European qualifications, Agius picked up several players who never represented Malta in this category.

In fact, the former Valletta player and coach handed debuts to Amara Sylla, Adam Magri Overend, Jamie Carbone, Ryan Tonna, Alejandro Garzia, Karl Mohnani and Glenn Attard from the start.

Andreas Vella, Jamie Sixsmith, Jeremy Micallef, Gianluca Sciberras, Cain Formosa, Christian Gauci, Kenley Scerri and Maryville Saints player Victor DeGiorgio were also making their first appearance as they came on from the bench.

Hibernians’ midfielder Ayrton Attard, one of the most experienced players in the side, captained the team as he was partnered by Balzan’s player Marcus Grima at the heart of the midfield.

Qatar, on their part, are preparing for their upcoming Asian U-23 championship qualifiers. Led by former Serie A player Nicolas Cordova, Qatar’s side boasted several players who feature in their domestic league at the likes of Xavi’s Al Saad and Al Rayyan, coached by Laurent Blanc. A handful of them were also part of Qatar’s side in the 2019 U-20 World Cup as well.

An Attard freekick sailed past Qatar’s goal as Malta registered the first action of the game.

Yet, it was their only chance as the first 45 minutes were dominated by the Qatari side.

After a pulsating start that saw end to end transitions, Qatar settled down and started to dominate proceedings.

They made their possession count after 22 minutes when Assem Jabdulsallam headed home from a set-piece to break the deadlock.

Afterwards, Qatar hit the post twice in a flurry of quick chances that continued to peg Malta into their own half.

Malta failed to avoid conceding a second before the interval as Rabeh Boussafi hit a curling effort that stunned goalkeeper Sylla as Qatar were leading by two goals at half-time.

At the restart, Qatar remained the better team as they were pushing to extend their lead.

Malta came close to pull one back through Adam Magri Overend whose header was cleared off the line by Qatar’s custodian.

On the 75th minute, Qatar’s Abdulaziz Alhasia failed to convert into an empty net as they came close to strike a third.

Nonetheless, Alhasia was not to be denied when he fired a long-range effort from the edge of the area to make it 3-0.

In the closing stages of the game, Qatar were awarded two penalties which Nasser Al-Yazidi and Alhasia both converted as they wrapped up a comfortable win.

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