Following a 1-5 defeat to Scotland in the first match from the European Qualifiers leading to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Malta is eager to bounce back with a good performance as it takes on England at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, kick-off at 18:00 CET.
Against Scotland, the performance in the first half was quite positive as although Malta went one goal down, the team’s reaction was immediate and Alfred Effiong restored equilibrium. However after going 1-2 down, the controversial penalty and dismissal of Jonathan Caruana proved to be the turning point and from then onwards, the visitors dominated.
Without any doubt, this will however be a very difficult game as England are hoping to impress in front of a packed Wembley Stadium following the termination of Sam Allardyce’s contract and the appointment of Gareth Southgate as interim manager.
Malta coach Pietro Ghedin could not field his best formation as Jonathan Caruana and Luke Gambin were sent off in the clash with Scotland last month and Roderick Briffa is recovering from an injury which will also rule him out from next Tuesday against Lithuania and next month’s clash with Slovenia.
However with the backing over two thousand Maltese fans who travelled to London for the game, the boys in red will be doing their very best to make it a night to remember.
With the absence of Caruana and Gambin, Ghedin is forced to make at least two changes to the team which lost to Scotland.
Andrew Hogg is set to start in goal with Zach Muscat, who is now playing regularly for Arezzo, set to join Steve Borg and Andrei Agius as central defenders. On the flanks, Ryan Scicluna and Joseph Zerafa could retain their place although the inclusion of Clayton Failla is another possibility.
In midfield, Gareth Sciberras and Paul Fenech are expected to retain their place with a number of players fighting for the other place in midfield but the choice should fall on either Bjorn Kristensen or Rowen Muscat In attack, Andre Schembri should be supporting Alfred Effiong.
Theother players in the Malta squad are Henry Bonello, Ryan Camilleri, Alex Muscat, Mark Scerri, Steve Pisani, Michael Mifsud and Jean Paul Farrugia.
This will be the fourth time, Malta plays England and the second time the two teams meet at Wembley Stadium. England defeated Malta 1-0 in a European Championship qualifier at the Gzira Stadium in February 1971 and in May 1971, England won 5-0 at Wembley Stadium. In June 2000, England defeated Malta 2-1 in a friendly match at Ta’ Qali.
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