Friday night was a night to remember for the Malta national team players, MFA officials and guests and the journalists present at the Republican Stadium in Yerevan. Although all hoped for a good result, few thought that Malta would leave the pitch with the three points. After all, twenty years had passed since Malta registered the last win away from home when a goal by Kristian Laferla gave the boys in red a 1-0 win over Estonia in Tallinn.
On Friday, Armenia were determined to collect the three points after winning just one of their first four matches in Group B of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers – the first game against Malta at Ta’ Qali. However their plans were foiled by the eighth-minute goal which saw Alex Muscat serve Andre Schembri who passed the ball to Gareth Sciberras, the latter releasing Michael Mifsud on the left with the Malta captain having his first attempt blocked by goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky before placing the ball at the back of the net with an angled shot off the rebound.
As expected, the hosts did their best to level matters but the Maltese rear-guard did a brilliant job in keeping their opponents at bay. The back-four – Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Caruana, Luke Dimech and Alex Muscat – stopped most attempts and when the Armenians managed to penetrate they found a brilliant Justin Haber blocking their efforts in any possible way.
The rest of the team did an excellent job in helping their colleagues control their opponents, even more when these increased the pressure.
After the game, coach Pietro Ghedin was full of praise for the players.
“The boys were great. They were fully concentrated, giving their hundred percent. All players deserve praise, even those who were on the bench as we have been working hard together for the past months. All the players are keen on doing well and improve themselves,” said the Malta coach.
In his previous spell as Malta coach, Ghedin had collected two points in the European Championship qualifiers. This time, he has already went a step further. One should also note that over the past thirteen months, since he took over as Malta coach, Malta defeated Luxembourg, San Marino and Liechtenstein in three friendly matches away from home.
“This win gives us strong stimulus as we can now look forward with optimism and serenity,” concluded Ghedin.
The only negative aspect of this game, apart from the injury sustained by Gareth Sciberras early in the second half, were the yellow cards for Alex Muscat and Luke Dimech who are now set to miss the next qualifier against Denmark in September as this was their second yellow card.
Malta now plays Azerbaijan in a friendly match in Baku on August 14 before Malta plays the final four World Cup qualifiers against Denmark on September 6, Bulgaria on September 10, the Czech Republic on October 11 and an away game to Denmark on October 15.
Four matches from which Malta will be trying to increase its tally.
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar / MFA
no images were found