Malta’s opening match in Group B of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Preliminary Round ended in a slim 1-0 defeat to Greece at the Selman Stermazi Stadium in Tirana on Thursday.
Anastasia Papadopolou’s 18th-minute goal separated the two sides but Greece deserved their win as they fashioned the better chances.
The Maltese girls, under the guidance of coach Mark Gatt, had a good opportunity to equalise 12 minutes from the end.
Rachel Cuschieri, who plies her trade with Cypriot club Apollon Ladies, outsmarted her marker but her effort was saved by Greece goalkeeper Eleni Peletidou.
In the other Group B match, Albania edged out Kosovo 3-2 courtesy of a stoppage-time goal.
Malta face hosts Albania in their second group fixture on Saturday at 2pm while Greece meet Kosovo at noon.
Photo: Copyright © domenic aquilina
GREECE Eleni Peletidou, Eleni Kakambouki, Anastasia Gkatsou, Danai-Eleni Sidira (60 Sofia Nati), Natalia Chatzigiannidou, Chara Dimitriou, Anastasia Papadopoulou, Veatriki Sarri (Dimitra Panteliadou), Athanasia Moraitou (73 Sofia Kongouli), Eleni Markou, Tatiana Georgiou.
MALTA Janice Xuereb, Ann-Marie Said, Kim Parnis (63 Gabriella Zahra), Stephania Farrugia, Dorianne Theuma (77 Raina Giusti), Ylenia Carabott, Rachel Cuschieri, Shona Zammit, Jade Flask, Charlene Zammit, Emma Xuereb (80 Kelly Pace).
Referee: Lina Lehtovaara (Finland).