MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo explained the factors behind the Executive Committee’s unanimous decision to dismiss national team coach John Buttigieg and his assistant Carmel Busuttil. A decision which was taken on Tuesday, a few days after Malta ended its commitments in the EURO 2012 qualifiers with one point from ten matches.
Speaking during a meeting of the Council which was held on Wednesday, Darmanin Demajo said that there were three main factors, namely the team’s overall performance, the terms of the contract and other considerations.
The MFA President said the association knew the competition was tough as Malta was among the lowest seeds in the tournament and therefore it was not fair to judge the coach only on the team’s performance. He pointed out that Malta was never consistent at this level of competition and when we obtained positive results, these were always the result of “a moment of glory every now and again.”
When Malta obtained positive results against countries which used to be considered to be on the same level as Malta but are now ranked much higher, most of them hardly had any players playing abroad. Now the large majority of their players are professional players playing in top leagues.
Darmanin Demajo went on to say that the terms of the contract offered by the previous MFA administration to Buttigieg and Busuttil was something which hurts him and others because at this level, one should never offer a coach a five-year contract. Contracts should be offered or extended from one competition to another.
He went on to explain that Buttigieg and Busuttil’s contract, signed in August 2009, was due to expire on June 30, 2014. This meant that the association was almost bound even for the European Championship qualifiers which would start a few weeks later as there would have not been enough time to appoint a new coach.
The MFA president explained that during the discussions over the national team coaches, other occurrences and private issues with regards to selection and call-ups emerged. Although he stressed that the administration does not interfere in team selection, such factors were still relevant as it seemed that some decisions went beyond technical considerations.
Norman Darmanin Demajo said that this was the best decision the association could take in the interest of all. He said it was a difficult decision but one taken with courage, especially when one considers the fact that John Buttigieg and Carmel Busuttil gave a lot to the local game and did all their best.
He said that from now on, the association has to look ahead.
“We have a vacancy to fill. The priority is to find the right person suited for the job,” said Darmanin Demajo.
“In such competitions, we need a coach who has the experience in this level of football. Personally I prefer the idea of a foreign coach but the idea may be overridden by the other members of the Executive Committee. We will see what the options are and together we take a decision.”
Malta is expected to play a friendly match in February and possibly another in June before the first FIFA World Cup qualifiers in autumn.
The MFA President stressed that our league cannot guarantee a pool of players which would help the national team perform at a higher level. Therefore the only option is to export as many players as possible.
Darmanin Demajo said that the association has to start from the foundations and help 16 to 18 year olds move abroad to play football at a higher level. For this reason, the MFA, together with a number of Italian coaches, identified a number of 12 and 13 year olds who will be given professional training to prepare them to make a move abroad in a few years time.
The MFA President concluded by saying that we need around twenty-five players playing abroad to improve the level of our national team. Hopefully in three years’ time, we would have ten more players abroad.
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