The Malta Under-21 side will be hosting Sweden in another match from Group 2 of the UEFA Under-21 Championship Qualifying round at the Hibernians Stadium on Tuesday, kick-off at 19:00.
The team led by Ray ‘Zazu’ Farrugia had a flying start in the group with a draw in Finland and a 2-1 win over Lithuania away from home in June but two defeats in five days against Slovenia and Finland last September soon brought the locals down to earth. At the Gozo Stadium last month, Malta rescued a point in a 2-2 draw with Ukraine but then suffered a 0-2 to Lithuania.
Photo (top): Copyright © Joseph Mercieca – Gozo Vision Studio
The game against Sweden will therefore be the seventh in the group and as usual Ray Farrugia’s boys will be going out in search of another positive result.
Speaking on Monday, Farrugia said that although Sweden are strong opponents, the locals will go out to get more points.
Besides Leighton Grech, Mark Scerri and Triston Caruana who are all ruled out, the presence of Miguel Ciantar is in doubt as he is suffering from a slight injury. Farrugia said the fact that players were in action in league matches during the weekend, preparation for the game was far from ideal.
He appealed for support as this was essential for the players since support helps them a lot.
The Malta Under-21 coach said that unfortunately young players were not thought ‘positive thinking’. He said that by teaching players to think positively.
“Players should believe in themselves as in this way, results will be obtained. The number one priority should be to believe in what we can do and not to be afraid of opponents.”
Asked regarding the vacancy of national team coach, Ray Farrugia said that now he is fully focussed on the his job as Malta Under-21 coach. “Now I am focussed on the Under-21 side. I have an important job which we started ten months ago and I believe we are on the right track,” said Farrugia.
Floriana midfielder Clyde Borg said that after obtaining positive results against strong opponents, the team could obtain another positive result on Tuesday.
Balzan Youths defender Yessous Camilleri, on the other hand, said that the team’s strength is the unity among players and is confident that with more support, the team could do better.
Should Ciantar recover in time, the starting line-up would be: Steve Sultana, Luca Martinelli, Yessous Camilleri, Zach Muscat, Matthew Gauci, Rowen Muscat, Clyde Borg, Bjorn Kristensen, Miguel Ciantar, Steve Pisani, Terence Vella.
Meanwhile MFA Technical Director Robert Gatt revealed a number of foreign scouts coming from clubs including Chelsea and Torino will be present for the game.
Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina