The Malta Under-17 side secured a place in the Elite Round of the UEFA Under-17 Championship thanks to one of the two places reserved for the best third-ranked teams from the qualifying round.
In Friday’s games from Group 9, Malta was counting on the results obtained by Greece, Norway and Italy. Italy led the section prior to today’s matches, level on four points with Greece and three ahead of Norway and Moldova. Italy lost 2-0 to Norway, but still would have finished top had Greece not equalised late to draw 2-2 with Moldova. That lifted Greece to first place and took them through to the Elite round, with runners-up Norway pipping Italy on head-to-head record.
To determine the two best third-placed teams from the qualifying round, only the results of the third-placed team against the winners and runners-up in each group were taken into account, with the following criteria applying in the order given:
a) higher number of points obtained in these matches;
b) superior goal difference from these matches;
c) higher number of goals scored in these matches;
d) fair play conduct of the teams in all group matches in the qualifying round;
e) drawing of lots.
The points obtained in clashes with the top two teams in the group were as follows:
Group 1: Azerbaijan 1 point
Group 2: Lithuania 0 points
Group 3: Denmark 0 points
Group 4: Israel 0 points
Group 5: Finland 3 points (1 goal in favour, 2 against)
Group 6: Bulgaria 1 point
Group 7: Estonia 1 point
Group 8: Malta 3 points (2 goals in favour, 3 against)
Group 9: Italy 1 point
Group 10: Cyprus 0 points
Group 11: Luxembourg 1 point
Group 12: Iceland 1 point
Group 13: Belarus 0 points
Malta and Finland therefore reach the next stage together with England and Serbia from Group 1, Spain and Romania from Group 2, Croatia and Belgium from Group 3, Austria and Poland from Group 4, Turkey and Germany from Group 5, Ireland and Sweden from Group 6, France and Ukraine from Group 7, Netherlands and Northern Ireland from Group 8, Greece and Norway from Group 9, Portugal and Georgia from Group 10, Hungary and Slovakia from Group 11, Wales and Bosnia-Herzegovina from Group 12, Czech Republic and Switzerland from Group 13.
The Elite Round will be held in March.
In Group 8, Malta lost 0-2 to Northern Ireland in the first match but then bounced back with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands thanks to two penalties by Sacha Borg and Dylan D’Agostino. In the third and final match, the team led by Charles Scerri and his assistant Ramon Zammit was held in a goalless draw by hosts Andorra.
The 18-players who took part in the mini-tournament were:
Yenz Cini (Valletta), Carlos Dimech (Pietà), John Debono (Pietà), Brandon Gatt (Hibs), Christian Grech (Pietà), John Micallef (Hibs), Malcolm Vella (Hibs), Terence Agius (Pietà), Dylan D’Agostino (Valletta), Bjorn Kristensen (Silkeborg FC – DEN), Brandon Muscat (Hibs), Zach Muscat (Pietà), Ian Scerri (Hibs), Sacha Borg (Floriana), Christian Briffa (Hibs), Michael Camilleri (Birkirkara), Ryan Dalli (Sliema), Matthew Hammett (Hibs).
A tally of four points is already the highest-ever for Malta in this tournament. Malta had never before progressed through a round of a UEFA youth competition.