As is often the case when our senior national team is engaged in a competitive match, winning spoils is not an easy proposition. Points have been at a premium and breaking our duck in these terms has very often been top priority for us, never mind some relatively acceptable fare we have put up.
In the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B, we have had five outings and these have resulted in as many defeats, with scoring statistics showing a one against 14 reading. Despite some creditable performances, the all too familiar position at the bottom of the group standings has been haunting us.
Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
At least, we would dearly want to get off the points mark and thus erase feelings of complete isolation at the foot of the table.
Our next opportunity to do so is on the 7th June when we face Armenia on away soil in a match which presents our lads under the guidance of Pietro Ghedin with yet another stern test against opponents whose predicament is slightly less ominous than ours.
The Armenians are presently on three points which were obtained at our expense in the corresponding encounter in Malta. Apart from prestige, their aim is to command more respect from the other contestants in a group that has the top four guns, Italy, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Bulgaria still in with a chance of proceeding further in the competition.
Our aspirations are similar to those of Armenia, only that we have a mountain to climb when we play in adverse conditions such as those we probably have to contend with in their country.
It will be the last match before the summer recess which extends to the beginning of September when we are due to meet Denmark and Bulgaria at Ta’ Qali in the space of five days between the 6th and 10th of that month.
Although our season has now ended, the players in our squad have been under intense preparation to maintain their physical trim and to fine-tune their collective tactical skills.
We have to pull all the strings and tick all the right boxes as we seek some sort of redemption. Indeed, we look forward to playing a good match backed by a fruitful outcome.
The provisional squad is made up of:
goalkeepers Justin Haber (Birkirkara), Glenn Zammit (Sliema), Mario Muscat (Hibs);
defenders Jacob Borg (Balzan), Alex Muscat (Sliema), Clayton Failla (Hibs), Andrei Agius (Latina Calcio), Luke Dimech (Valletta), Jonathan Caruana (Valletta), Justin Grioli (Tarxien), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino (Sliema), Ryan Camilleri (Hibs);
midfielders Roderick Briffa (Valletta), Edward Herrera (Birkirkara), Gareth Sciberras (Birkirkara), Paul Fenech (Birkirkara), Rowen Muscat (Birkirkara), Shaun Bajada (Sliema);
forwards Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (Birkirkara), Michael Mifsud (Valletta), Andrew Cohen (Hibs), Terence Vella (Hamrun), Andre Schembri (Omonia Nicosia).