Under-21 side aims to bounce back from heavy defeat

After losing 1-4 to Slovenia last Thursday, the Malta Under-21 side will be hoping to bounce back on Thursday as Ray ‘Zazu’ Farrugia’s side hosts Finland in another match from Group 2 of the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifiers at the Hibernians Stadium, kick-off at 16:00.

Farrugia expressed his disappointment for the performance in Thursday’s game saying the only positive aspect he could draw from the game was the fact that the team created several scoring chances.

He said Slovenia were a good team but the Maltese showed them too much respect.

The Malta Under-21 coach said he believed in his players and they are now looking forward towards Tuesday’s game. He said that despite the heavy defeat, the team created five to six clear chances and he believes that against Finland, Malta can win.

Farrugia criticised armchair critics who seemed glad to see Malta losing. He said this was not fair on the players as the team needs everyone’s support. He also appealed for support, saying the players deserved it, and thanked the South End Core for their support during the last game.

Rowen Muscat said the loss to Slovenia will still be of benefit for the team as after two positive results, the team was a bit too confident and this loss would enable them to be more focussed for the clash with Finland.

On the other hand, Zach Muscat said the players will be all out to pick themselves up and against Finland, they have the chance to show they can still obtain a positive result.

Against Finland, Ray Farrugia will be making three changes, including goalkeeper Daniel Balzan, Rowen Muscat and Steve Pisani.

Therefore Malta will line-up as follows: Daniel Balzan, Zach Muscat, Matthew Gauci, Yessous Camilleri, Owen Bugeja; Mark Scerri, Rowen Muscat, Bjorn Kristensen; Leighton Grech, Terence Vella, Steve Pisani.

Last June, Malta had managed to hold Finland in a goalless draw away from home in the first game from the group. Since then, the Finnish defeated Slovenia 1-0 in their only other game.

Tickets for the games cost €4 for adults and €1 for children under the age of twelve and will be available at the gates.

Photo: Copyright © domenic aquilina