The following is an exclusive extensive interview with Head Coach Karl Izzo. Karl speaks about the Winter League that just finished, the Summer season that is on its way, the training camp in Siracusa, the senior team including the new foreigners as well as the junior sector.
What are your thoughts following the end of the winter league?
Winter league is always a time for trying out new young players, so that they can get a feel of competitive Waterpolo. It is also a good opportunity to experiment some new tactics etc. Our winter league this year was in my opinion a positive one. Finishing 3rd was already a better placing from last year. The only match where I really was disappointed was the first game against EXILES where we were totally unrecognizable. In fact the match ended in quite an easy win for Exiles. On that day we were also missing Andrea Bianchi and Karl Galea wasn’t fully fit but this was no excuse. From that game onwards our performances improved considerably and we were very close of reaching the final, losing to Neptunes in the SEMI FINAL after leading for three and a half sessions. We eventually beat Exiles comfortably in the 3rd and 4th place play off. We paraded our new signings Matthew Pisani and Ryan Mock who gave positive performances throughout and showed they will be an important asset for team in Summer league. It was also the right time for our younger players to play part in some games . Jean Claude Cutajar was very solid and gave 5 star performances in many games and confirmed his signing was a very good move and will be the basis for San Giljan team of the future . Veteran players Dino Camilleri , Andrea Bianchi , Karl Galea , Paul Fava and Christian Gialanze were utilized for most of all games and gave a very good account of themselves and helped the junior players integrate into the senior squad – special mention must go to Keith Galea whoplayed in all games, but also Anthony Bugeja, Andreas Galea , Ben Plumpton and Joseph Galea. Christophe Martin who was on a trial loan for the winter league from Otters also played a part in this campaign. We missed in some games the services of an important player, Kai Dowling through injury. It is also interesting to note that two of our younger players Kurt Mock and Daniel Spiteri were loaned to Valletta and gained valid experience in this winter league.
What will you be working on in the period leading to the Summer League?
The period between winter league and the first game of the Summer league is of approximately 4 weeks – We are using this time as a short but intensive pre season in preparation for the important summer league and cup starting in early June. This pre season involved early morning swimming and fitness sessions (with physical coach Keith Galea) but the apex of this preparation will be our training camp in Siracusa where we will be taking part in a quadrangular tournament with 3 Italian A1 / A2 teams. I am sure that this will be a very valid experience for all my boys.
Briefly describe foreigners:
This year ee have signed three foreigners namely NIKOLA SUTIC (we all know this player well as he formed part of our team last year. He is a sharp shooter , fast Swimmer and good defender. BORIS LETICA is a First Seven player with Mladost Zagreb, a top Croatian teamand also forms part of Macedonian National Team as he holds a double passport (CROATIAN / MACEDONIAN) Boris is a very versatile player and even though he is primarily a strong defender , possesses a very precise shot and is also a very fast swimmer and can play in all positions. Hopefully, his experience will be very valuable for our team this year. BOGDAN RATH apart from coaching our youngsters u 13 ,u15/ and u17teams, will also play part as foreign player with the senior team. Boghy is very experienced player and has played in Malta for the past three years. Apart from being a left hander Boghy is also a fast swimmer and an excellent play maker. Having three foreigners is an asset since this can
cover for any injuries / suspensions / fatigue which may occur during the season.
Briefly describe what are your expectations for the training camp;
San Giljan will be returning to Sicily for a training camp after 20 years – It was always my wish and the players also expressed the wish to go on a training camp and through a contact made with Mr Aldo Baio, head coach of Ortigia Siracusa, this was made possible. We will be leaving on Wednesday 30th May and returning on Sunday 3rd June – we will be training twice daily plus one gym session per day – We will be playing in tournament as already mentioned above but will also be having some common training with Ortigia Siracusa. It will be an experience for all the group and will be an appropriate time for the team to spend time together in preparation for Summer league.
My expectations for this year are very high as I also looking forward to the comeback of Matthew Zammit . I want to just to thank all the committee especially my President Dr Daniel Aquilina who has acceded to my requests. Now it is up to me and all players to repay him and the hard working Committee with success. We have been training very hard to achieve our goals. I am sure we are with the other two top teams this year. I am also very happy with the attention we have given in the past two years to our junior sector. It was the first wish I expressed to Daniel on signing my contract last year. We must keep on focusing on our juniors and we will not need to buy players from other clubs. Kai Dowling , Jean Claude (Chupa) Cutajar and Keith Galea already important part of senior squad, Anthony Bugeja , Kurt Mock, Daniel Spiteri , Andreas Galea , Ben Plumpton , Darren Zammit , Joseph Galea who have all trained intensively with Senior Squad since November are all very bright prospects knocking on the door for entry into the senior squad. One particular thing that makes me proud and happy is that all 2nd Division teams have requested our junior players to go on loan as shared athletes for this coming season after watching them play in winter and also in daily training sessions with older players and more experienced than them.