Malta coach John Buttigieg was highly disappointed about the team’s performance in the first twenty-five minutes of the game against Croatia. Buttigieg was speaking during a press conference which was held after the game won by Croatia 3-1.
“The game was a difficult one as anticipated. However I was disappointed with the players’ attitude and commitment during the first twenty-five minutes. We were losing possession easily leaving the initiative in their hands,” said Buttigieg.
The Malta coach said that however the players then gained confidence and played much better although the third goal eventually killed any hopes of a positive result.
Buttigieg said the team’s poor performance in the early stages could be because of fear although it was not the first time Malta was facing such a string team. He went on to say that he is happy with the group of players currently at his disposal.
As regards the absence of Jonathan Caruana, who missed the game as he was sick, Buttigieg says that a team like Malta cannot afford losing any player but still this was no excuse for the poor performance in the opening stages.
John Buttigieg did not rule out the possibility of Caruana being back for next Tuesday and said Daniel Bogdanovic will be considered should he return back for training with the national squad after leaving for England to sign a contract with Blackpool.
Malta hosts Georgia on Tuesday. Buttigieg said this will be another difficult game considering that last year they managed to beat Croatia. However Malta’s objective will be that of a positive performance and hopefully a positive result.
Croatia coach Slaven Bilic congratulated the two teams for what he described as an exciting game featuring four goals and several goal-scoring chances.
Bilic said the game was a difficult one for his team and praised the Maltese side for its quick and sharp players.
The Croatian coach said that after scoring the second goal, it seemed they were heading towards an easy win but Mifsud’s goal lifted up the Maltese side. He said they had a good start in the second half but Malta had some ten minutes of good football, passing on the ball really well. The third goal however sealed the issue.
Bilic singled out Michael Mifsud as being the most dangerous player.