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Goalkeeper Camilleri saves point for Malta in stoppage time

Published: Fri 22 Mar 2024, 23:51
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INTERNATIONAL UNDER 19 FRIENDLY
Centenary Stadium, 22.03.2024

MALTA…2
ALBANIA…2
(HT 0-1)

0-1 Tosku 18, 1-1 Xerri 75, 1-2 Myrta 89, 2-2 Camilleri 90+5

The Maltese national Under-19 team ended their diptych encounter with Albania with a two all draw, obtained in the most dramatic of ways when goalkeeper Luca Camilleri scored the equaliser deep into stoppage time. Based on the second half it was a deserved draw against a solid Albanian side with most of their squad plying their trade with top class Italian and German youth academies. Albania already showed to be a hard nut to crack for the Maltese on Wednesday in a match they won thanks to an early second half goal by Denis Prendi of the Cremonese Primavera side.

When compared to the first Friendly, Malta Under 19 coach Paul Gatt changed his starting line-up on two places. Kaiden Fenech and Ensell Attard, who both entered as second half substitutions on Wednesday, were used from the start instead of Kian Vella and Zak Barbara, who both started on the bench but entered the fray later into the game. Young 17-year-old Benjamin Cassar of Melita made his U19 debut by entering as a half-time substitute. The match produced no less than nine yellow cards, six for the visitors, which describes the somewhat tensed atmosphere at times as there were plenty of reckless tackles, amongst a handful other off the ball incidents throughout the match.

The opening 45 minutes were rather balanced with the visitors however creating the best goalscoring opportunities. In the first ten minutes of the game, Malta escaped twice with attempts by Ron Hasani and Dean Vranici who were both somehow paraded in extremis by the Maltese rear-guard. On 18 minutes however, the Maltese defence hesitated to long to stop Frederik Tosku’s darting run into the box, manoeuvring his way through three Maltese, beating Camilleri with an unstoppable swirling shot. Just before the half hour mark, Samuele Sina blasted high with a long-range attempt, nearly taking advantage from a sloppy Lucas Caruana pass. The Maltese tried hard to penetrate the Albanians into their own box through Attard, Sean Gatt and Serbian based striker Boston Billups but without the desired effect.

The Maltese youngsters were most definitely more adventurous in the second half, with Zak Barbara having two off-targets attempts in the first 15 minutes. While play remained rather balanced, the homeside created another good opportunity on 74 minutes when Keyon Ewurum’s scorcher from the edge of the box was turned into a corner by Albanian goalkeeper Gabriel Guri. From the Kieran Fenech cornerkick that followed, Sven Xerri rose high to equalise for Malta. Not much later, Albania came close with a free header by Fabjan Perndreca from another corner action. With three minutes regular time left, Mattias Fenech’s scorcher from the edge of the area missed target by an inch.

Towards the very end of regular time, Josiah Mallia brought down Ersi Bode in the box with the referee awarding a penalty. Camilleri initially blocked Olsi Myrta’s spot kick but the Albanian scored in the rebound.  There was however more late drama deep into stoppage time when Zak Barbara blasted his edge-of-the-box free-kick against the Albanian goalkeeper with Camilleri hitting the equaliser from close-range, much to the delight of the home fans. A spectacular finish of this entertaining game, two fruitful matches to gain more experience for the boys in the international arena.

Malta
Luca Camilleri, Finley Ging, Sven Xerri, Kean Scicluna (Josiah Mallia 46), Isaiah Chukunyere (Kaydon Catania 66), Kaiden Fenech (Kian Vella 79), Lucas Caruana (Matthias Fenech 46), Boston Billups (Zak Barbara 46), Jake Azzopardi (Benjamin Cassar 46), Ensell Attard (Trezeguet Zammit 79), Sean Gatt (Keyon Ewurum 66)
Coach: Paul Gatt

Albania
Gabriel Guri, Kleo Shpuza, Denis Prendi, Fabjan Perndreca, Muhadin Sulejmani (Kledi Marinaj 46), Ernesto Bakiu, Samuele Sina (Olsi Myrta 83), Klaus Kashari (Jordi Jaku 67), Dean Vranici (Ergis Arifi 46), Ron Hasani (Ersi Bode 46), Frederik Tosku (Dejvi Duro 67)
Coach: Bledi Shkembi

Referee
Andrea Naudi 

Images copyright by Stephen Gatt