Malta will be aiming at a positive result as the national team hosts Bulgaria in another match from Group B of the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the National Stadium on Tuesday, kick-off at 20:00.
The 6-0 defeat in Sofia last March was the biggest defeat for the national team in around eight years but the game, played on a frozen pitch, was not definitely played in ideal conditions.
The team did well in its last outing against Denmark and with a bit more of luck, could have even achieved a positive result.
Photo (above): Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
Addressing the media on Monday, Ghedin complained about the fact that Malta gave away two goals to Denmark and the good performance was not enough for Malta to get a positive result. He said it was of utmost importance to stop conceding goals due to such mistakes.
The Malta coach said the team missed Alex Muscat and Luke Dimech in the last match, saying he was forced to put Roderick Briffa in an unusual role as right back.
“I believe in this team. The team has been working hard for the past eighteen months in order to improve. We conceded an own goal, we hit the post … we just hope for more luck next time,” said Ghedin.
The Malta coach believes the heavy defeat to Bulgaria was heavily linked to the terrible weather conditions in Sofia and ruled out any particular defensive plan. He said Maltese players were not used to playing in such conditions.”
“My system is always the same – zone marking. If players know their role well, know their way to move, etc. We have been training this system over the past eighteen months. In Armenia, everybody knew his role and was confident about their task.”
Pietro Ghedin was satisfied with the performance of Rowen Muscat and John Mintoff who were handed a place in the starting line-up on Friday. He said both are still young but they are doing well. Rowen Muscat is expected to retain his place in the starting line-up on Tuesday.
Clayton Failla and John Mintoff are slightly injured but Ghedin hopes both recover in time for Friday’s game.
With Justin Haber confirmed in goal, Luke Dimech will join Andrei Agius as central defenders with Ryan Camilleri probably being shifted to the right flank and Clayton Failla playing on the left. Rowen Muscat and Gareth Sciberras will be employed as holding midfielders with Alex Muscat, Andre Schembri and Edward Herrera playing in midfield with Michael Mifsud as the only striker.
Photo: Copyright © domenic aquilina
About Mifsud, Ghedin stressed that he is a very professional player and trains hard on his own. He admitted the lack of sharpness in the last game could be the result of lack of match-fitness, saying that hopefully he would find a club soon.
Valletta defender Luke Dimech said that although this was a difficult group, the team did well, showing that with hard work, one can still achieve good results. He said that apart from the Sofia game, Malta played quite well in all the other group matches.
Dimech said the squad includes a good mixture of veteran players, players who are at the peak of their career and promising youngsters who work together to achieve the right atmosphere. He finally appealed for the backing of supporters as they aim for a positive result.
Rowen Muscat, on the other hand, thanked the rest of the team for making it easy for him to settle down in the squad. He said that after the Denmark game, players are willing to avoid the mistakes in order to achieve a good result.
Denmark’s win over Malta, Armenia’s away win in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria’s defeat to Italy means that just one point separates four teams with Bulgaria currently second on ten points, followed by Armenia, the Czech Republic and Denmark on nine.
“Four teams are in the same situation playing for the runner-up spot. Bulgaria are coming here for a win. We have to do our very best and if luck is on our side, we could still achieve a good result,” said Pietro Ghedin.
Malta hosted Bulgaria on five occasions – three friendly matches and two World Cup qualifiers. Two games ended in draws – the last being the World Cup qualifier in 2005 when Malta held Bulgaria in a 1-1 draw.
Malta vs Bulgaria will be controlled by officials from Romania – referee Alexandru Dan Tudor, assisted by Cristian Constantin Nica and Aurel Onita and fourth official Pavel Cristian Balaj.
National Stadium Gates and Ticket Booths will be open at 18:30. The West C, Millennium D and F and South Stands will be used for the local fans, while Sector West A (Upper) will be reserved for the visiting fans. Millennium E will be reserved for corporate clients.
Ticket prices are as follows:
West Stand C – Adults €20, Children n/a
Millennium Stand – Adults €10, Children €5
South Stand – Adults €7, Children €3