Malta’s Feet Brought Back To The Ground

by Chris Galea, di-ve sport, Malta
5:23:10 am on Thursday, 13 September, 2007 (CET)


Showing only glimpses of the heart and character that earned them
a deserved draw against Turkey on Saturday, Malta failed to keep
the momentum going as they lost to Armenia in a friendly match,
succumbing to the odd goal scored by Voskanyan.

The game was at times drab, with very few clear-cut chances created
from either side. The atmosphere at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium
was not that of the big occasions either, as both the size and the
support of the crowd was in stark contrast to the enthusiasm shown
in the previous match.

As expected, Malta’s coach Dusan Fitzel revolutionized the initial
formation, changing six players from the eleven that started the game
against Turkey.

Prior to the match, a minute of silence was observed to pay respect
to Armenia’s coach Ian Porterfield, a 61-year-old Scotsman, who
passed away on Tuesday. He was replaced on the bench by his assistant
Tom Jones.

The beginning of the game was marked by caution from both sides, with
chances being very sporadic until mid-way through the first half,
when the game livened up a bit and Armenia managed to move ahead in
the score.

Both teams, especially Malta, were very compact, with their rearguard
playing very high up. They tried to play the ball around using low
passes, with long balls being used to launch the respective fast
strikers in the open spaces.

Match Highlights

In the 10th minute, Mario Muscat sent a shiver down the supporters’
spine as, on a long ball from the Armenian rearguard, he misjudged
the timing of his rushing onto the ball, leaving Melkonyan almost
with an open net. The Maltese custodian however did well to recover
and gather the ball.

On 20 minutes, Malta had their first clear chance when Kevin Sammut
created himself some space on the right wing with a clever shimmy and
crossed on to Ivan Woods in the middle of the area, but his header
went just over.

Two minutes later, Cleaven Frendo’s 30-metre low drive direct from
a free-kick ended just inches wide of the post guarded by Hakobyan.

Armenia moved ahead in the 26th minute, when on the developments of a
free-kick taken from the left, the ball was headed down into the feet
of Voskanyan who, from the edge of the small area, made no mistake
and turned the ball into the net.

Malta’s response was immediate, as they went close with skipper Gilbert
Agius’ free-kick which went just over the bar with the keeper beaten.

Despite holding the greater part of possession and holding their
opponents at bay for most of the time, the Maltese failed to pose
any concrete threat to the Armenian defense, and the game gradually
eased off towards half-time.

The second half commenced with Malta making three substitutions, as
Fitzel sent some fresh legs onto the pitch. Trying to push forward,
Malta went close with Kevin Sammut, who shot just wide of the post
after a good run in middle.

Armenia answered with a swift counter attack carried out by Melkonyan
and Pachajyan. The effort was concluded by Melikyan, but Muscat was
alert and saved on the ground.

With both coaches having the possibility to effect unlimited
substitutions, the game did not really take off due to the continuous
changes, as both teams took time to find their feet again.

In the 70th minute, Lazarian, who had just come on a few minutes
before, tried to surprise Muscat by curling the ball directly from
a corner, but the Maltese keeper managed to parry the ball onto the
bar and into another corner.

Malta were close to an equalizer when Terence Scerri rose high into
the air to meet a cross by Andrew Cohen, but the effort went over.

A few minutes later, Ian Azzopardi received the first booking of
a relatively calm game for a late tackle on Minasyan. The ensuing
free-kick was taken by Lazarian, with his curling shot going close
to the post and Avetisyan failing to give the ball a slight touch
from close range that would have probably increased Armenia’s lead.

Malta had the best of its chances in the 81st minute when Etienne
Barbara crossed low into the middle of the area, but Terence Scerri’s
extended foot did not manage to make contact with the ball a few
paces away from the goal line. The ball got through to Cohen’s feet,
but the Armenian defense cleared into a corner.

>From the corner, Cohen passed to Agius just outside the area and
the captain tried to surprise the keeper with a chip towards the top
corner, but the ball hit the upper side of the netting.


Malta: M.Muscat, S.Wellman (45′ I.Azzopardi), L.Dimech (75′ A.Xuereb),
G.Agius (82′ K.Scicluna), R.Briffa, P.Pullicino, I.Woods, K.Sammut
(63′ A.Cohen), A.Schembri (45′ T.Scerri), J.Mifsud, C.Frendo (45′

Yellow Cards: I.Azzopardi (78′)

Armenia: F.Hakobyan, S.Hovscpyan, K.Dokhoyan, A.Tatevosyan,
R.Arzumanyan, L.Pachajyan (74′ V.Minasyan), A.Voskanyan, A.Arakelyan,
Y.Melikyan (65′ A.Lazarian), A.Hakobyan (82′ A.Minasyan), S.Melkonyan
(68′ A.Avetisyan).

Goals: Voskanyan (26′)

Referee: Charles Richmond (Scotland)

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS