After beating Andorra 5-3 and Georgia 2-1, a draw would be enough for Malta to secure a place in the qualifying round proper of the UEFA Women’s EURO as the women’s national team faces the Faroe Islands in their final match from Group 2 of the Preliminary Round at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on Thursday, kick-off at 11:00. At the same time, at the National Stadium, Georgia face Andorra.
Malta currently lead the group with maximum points from two matches, followed by the Faroe Islands and Georgia on three and Andorra without any points.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, Malta women’s national team coach Mark Gatt said that Malta cannot focus on a draw on Thursday, saying the team has to go out in search of a win.
Gatt said that he was happy with the performance in the first two games, with the team showing improvement in the game against Georgia. He said that against the Faroe Islands, he hopes the team continues where it had left.
Mark Gatt stressed that the team does not take for granted positive results and that in the final game, anything can happen. He said that he took over as coach in January and his main objective right from the start was to improve their game, adding that good results were an added bonus.
Faroe Islands coach Jon Pauli Olsen said the tournament has been an exciting one so far and that although Malta were the favourites as they needed just a draw, anything could happen in the direct clash between the two teams. Georgia coach Tamaz Kostava said he was pleased with his team’s performance so far and that the team was focussed on winning the last game. Georgia could only hope that they win the game and that Malta loses by not more than three goals.
If the Faroe Islands beat Malta and Georgia defeat Andorra, three teams would end their commitments on six points – Malta, the Faroe Islands and Georgia – and it would be the goal-difference in the direct encounters between the three teams that would determine the group winner as all teams would have obtained three points. Malta currently has a +1 (2-1 over Georgia), Georgia +1 (2-0 over Faroe Islands and 1-2 to Malta) and the Faroe Islands -2 (0-2 to Georgia).
When asked whether the current format of the qualifiers – with eight teams grouped into two Preliminary Round mini-tournaments and the winners reaching the Qualifying Round proper – improves the level of the game or not, Georgia coach Tamaz Kostava said that for the teams who fail to qualify, there is a long period of rest and that definitely does not improve the level of the teams. Jon Pauli Olsen agreed saying that for teams failing to make it to the Qualifying Round proper, it was hard to improve.
Mark Gatt, on the other hand, said that it was at youth level – the Under-16 Youth Development Tournaments, that one could really find out whether the level of the game was improving or not.
For Andorra, this was their first participation at this level. Coach Juan Carles Ruiz Garcia said that it was a difficult tournament but the team was growing, little by little, adding that participation in such tournaments was very important.