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Watch: Farrugia proud of his players as Malta U-16 stun USA in world championship

UNITED STATES 7

MALTA 10

(3-1, 2-2, 1-3, 1-4)

Malta U-16 national team coach Anthony Farrugia could not hide his delight as his young charges kickstarted their commitments in the World Championships with a stunning victory over the United States in Volos on Sunday.

It was a remarkable result for the Maltese youngsters who were facing an American team who holds a great tradition in international waterpolo.

The Americans seemed to be cruising to victory as they led 5-3 when ends were changed.

But the Maltese players put up a strong reaction in the final two sessions to turn the tables on their opponents and secure a huge victory on their first-ever appearance in a World Championship.

“I am really proud of this group of players,” coach Anthony Farrugia said.

“I would like to congratulate them for a great performance as today they gave everything they had. This is a team full of promising players who last year were named as the Team of the Year in the SportMalta Awards.

“It’s not easy to put on such a performance on your debut in a world championship. One has to remember that a few days ago the majority of these players were with their club playing domestic waterpolo, so we didn’t prepare much for this competition.

“But this result surely shows that there is great potential in this team and we need to take care of these players as they can provide a lot of satisfaction to Maltese waterpolo.”

Sunday’s win over the United States has put Malta in a strong position to top the group and secure a place in the gold round where the team can challenge for a top placing in the competition.

On Monday, Malta will wrap up its commitments against Kazakhstan.

“Kazakhstan is a team that I feel we can compete well against them,” Farrugia said.

“My only concern is that they may well have some three or four Russian players that we wouldn’t be aware of.

“Now we look forward tonight’s training session where we will prepare well for the match against Kazakhstan.”

Malta struggled to keep the pace with the Americans in the first two sessions and found themselves 4-1 down midway through the second quarter.

But gradually they started to recover their poise and managed to level the match on 6-6 following goals from Cain Cutajar and Jayden Cutajar.

In the fourth and final session, Jayden Cutajar put Malta 7-6 ahead before Ben Forer levelled things up for the Americans.

But the Maltese kept charging forward as Jayden Cutajar struck twice in quick succession before Elijah Schembri sealed Malta’s win.

United States: N. Pavoggi, B. Brinkema 3, M. Arlett, N. Banos, A. Blum, C. Bradley 1, B. Forer 2, C. Francisco, C. Ohl 1, T. Whitehead, C. Kim, H. Lacy

Malta: D. Galea Mule, L. Dimech, S. Engerer, G. Bonavia, J. Cassar 1, D. Bugeja 1, Z. Cutajar Licari, J. Cutajar 5, E. Schembri 1, C. Cutajar 1, L. Montebello Brownrigg 1) E. Mallia, I. Schembri.

Referees: A. Bura (Croatia), K. Moribayashi (Japan).

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