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Balzan ambition helping Malta

An influx of Romanian talent has given Balzan FC a great chance of progressing past the preliminary round and raising the profile of futsal in Malta.

Gabriel Dobre (right) helping Romania qualify for UEFA Futsal EURO 2014
Gabriel Dobre (right) helping Romania qualify for UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 ©Marko Djurić

Malta are still to get a team past the UEFA Futsal Cup preliminary round in eight attempts but Balzan FC may yet realise their nation's ambitions in the sport.

Balzan, who lost both matches on debut two years ago, are travelling to Zagreb for a tough group hosted by MNK Alumnus Zagreb and involving København Futsal. However, they can look to the example of Excess Futsal, so close to going through with four points in 2010/11, and then Hibernians FC, who matched that tally last season.

In Malta, Balzan eclipsed Hibernians to win a grand slam of trophies in 2013/14, and are boosted by their hugely experienced player-coach Gabriel Dobre, who has enlisted the help of his former Romania boss Sito Rivera. Indeed, their squad also boasts Romanian internationals Iuliu Safar, Emil Răducu and Andrei Dan.

Newly elected Futsal Malta Association (FMA) president Mark Borg knows club success could be a real spur. "Doing well in the UEFA Futsal Cup certainly helps us raise the profile of the sport in Malta," he told UEFA.com. "As an association we have to work harder to provide the right coaching skills for all our coaches so that we can produce better players, especially at futsal level and even in the game of football."