Italy coach Cesare Prandelli praised the Maltese players despite the 2-0 win for Italy on Tuesday.
“It is a respectable result for Malta, as the Maltese players fought for every ball. In the initial 35 minutes, Malta made life difficult for us; we had little spaces, than when the opportunity came, we did our job and scored,” said Prandelli. “They were an organized team especially in defence.”
The Italy coach admitted his team committed two errors, which the Maltese have taken advantage of – the penalty and Mifsud’s hitting the upright. “It would have been difficult against another opponent if they managed to score, defended well and kept the advantage,” added Prandelli.
When asked if Italy are becoming more Balotelli dependent, Prandelli replied, “No, if he continues to score at this rate, he is more of a guarantee rather than we are becoming dependent on him. If he manages to find interior balance and continues to score more goals, something which he is doing at the moment, it is going to be very difficult for our opponents to stop him.”
“We have a good lead in the table but it only takes one game to put our qualification into discussion. So our main task is to reach mathematical qualification as early as possible,” concluded Prandelli.
When asked to compare Malta’s performance with that in Sofia, Malta coach Pietro Ghedin said, “In Bulgaria, the pitch was very difficult for us. The Maltese players are not adapted to such severe climate, and our fierce opponents were able to take advantage of every mistake we made.”
About the Italy game, Ghedin said, “I am a bit disappointed about missing our chance to score from the penalty spot however I cannot blame Michael Mifsud. He has scored 36 goals for Malta which is not a small achievement for a country like Malta. He is a very professional player and he created another chance to score when he hit the upright.”
When asked about the inclusion of Luke Dimech in the first eleven, Ghedin said, “Luke was a professional player up till two years ago. He had a good football career, he is a sporty lad and does his job seriously.”
As regards the choice of Justin Haber over Andrew Hogg, the national coach revealed, “I took the decision to insert Haber instead of Hogg three days ago. It was a heavy defeat against Bulgaria and big psychological blow for every keeper to suffer six goals. I substituted Hogg to protect him.”
“We have a good group of players, sometimes one player plays, on another day, another player gets his turn. We hope to do well in the coming matches and manage to score,” concluded Ghedin.
Malta faces Armenia in Yerevan on June 7 before two home matches against Denmark and Bulgaria in September. The final two matches are against the Czech Republic at home and Denmark away from home.
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