During the past weekend, the Maltese Table Football players, participated in the World Cup competition, that was held in Elancourt, France under the auspicious of the International Federation, FISTF.
The Maltese players took part in three team competitions and four individual competitions, throughout the weekend. The Under 19 category team reached the final of this category after starting with a draw against Belgium and then narrowly losing against Italy. The team reacted well and won the next two games against France and Spain, to secure a place in the final. The Maltese youngsters had to face Italy and once again the game was very balanced. Unfortunately, the Italians were superior once again and won the final by two goals to one. The Maltese players were, Melvin Barun as captain, Tristan fenech, Jamie Bonnici and Jurgen Balzan. This positive result is a boost for these youngsters, as they pre-paired well for these championships, with the help of Alfred and Adrian Bonnici.
The Open team won the group with maximum points after convincing wins against Russia, Czech Rep. and Spain. A close win against France in the quarter finals saw the Maltese team face Belgium in the semis. The team was composed of Hansel Mallia as captain, Massimo Cremona, Samuel Bartolo and Angelo Borg. The Belgians proved too strong for the Maltese and won by four goals to nil. The game was very close till the final minutes, but the Maltese had to risk more and eventually the Belgians tool advantage and won the match. With this result, the Maltese team won a deserved bronze medal.
The Veteran team was formed by Adrian Bonnici, Mario Camilleri, Jason Pisani, John Zammit and the captain, Charles Aquilina. They won the first match against France by four goals to nil, but lost narrowly against Italy by a single goal. The third match against Scotland was like a decider, but the Maltese won convincingly by four goals to nil. The quarter final match against Belgium was a tough match, as the Belgians are considered a strong team in Table Football. The game was very balanced and the result uncertain till the final moments, where the Belgians took advantage with three minutes to go and kept it till the end.
During the Individual competitions, the Maltese had 14 players taking part and in the Under 15 category, Jamie Bonnici qualified from his group after winning against players from Austria and England. Finally he had to bow out in the Last 16, against Italian world cup winner, Claudio La Torre.
Three players took part in the Under 19 category, with Tristan Fenech and Melvin Barun only reached the group phase. Jurgen Balzan qualified from his group, after beating Italian and Belgium players. He also had to bow out against another Italian, Paolo Zambello.
In the Open category, all five Maltese players qualified from their respective groups. Samuel Bartolo and Angelo Borg reached the Last 32, were they had to play against the Haas brothers, Christian and Alexander. Unfortunately both Maltese players were eliminated on penalties after drawing their matches.
Hansel Mallia, Massimo Cremona and Derek Conti advanced to the Last 16. Hansel eliminated players from France, Brazil and Germany but lost to Luca Colangelo of Italy by one goal to nil. Massimo had convincing wins against players from Australia, Gibraltar and France, but another Italian player eliminated him by three goals to one in favour of Mato Ciccarelli. Derek Conti won against players from Czech Rep., Russia and Belgium to meet Christan Haas in the Last 16. Once again Haas eliminated a Maltese player by a single goal.
Five Maltese players took part in the Veteran category, were all, except John Zammit qualified from the group stage. John had a very strong group but with just one loss against Patrizio Lazzaretti, he was eliminated. During the Last 16 stage, two Maltese players played against each other for a quarter final place. This match was played by Mario Camilleri and Jason Pisani, which resulted in a very balanced game, where the penalties were needed to determine the winner. Luck was on Jason’s side and he went through by four goals to three. To reach this stage, Mario eliminated players from Japan, Tunisia, Germany and Austria.
Charles Aquilina won his group and eliminated players from Russia, Spain, Wales and Germany, but he had to bow out against Gunther Bamberzky of Austria by a single goal.
Adrian Bonnici and Jason Pisani both reached the quarter finals, with Adrian eliminating players from Spain, England, Greece and Italy, but it had to be another Italian player, Gerardo Patruno to stop Adrian’s run, by three goals to nil. Jason also had a good run of results, with all matches being quite close. He had the better off players from Gibraltar, Scotland and Greece to eventually play Spain’s Antonio Montano. It was a long penalty shoot-out the saw the Spaniard go to the semis, after a goal less draw.
During Saturday’s games, the Maltese Ambassador for France, Mrs. Helga Mizzi, together with Ms. Nicole Sarero, visited the playing hall and met the Maltese contingent. During this visit, the MTFSA President, Mr. Joseph Zammit Pavia, presented the Maltese Ambassador, the Malta National shirt.
Also during the weekend, the annual FISTF meeting was held. This year the meeting was very important, as the council members had to be elected for the next four years.