After losing 2-0 in Oslo, Malta will be in action once again on Sunday, facing Romania in another match from Group F of the European Qualifiers leading to EURO 2020 at the Stadionul Ilie Oană in Ploiești on Sunday, kick-off at 18:00.
The defeat to Norway was the fourth in Group F for Malta following those to Spain at Ta’ Qali, Sweden in Solna and Romania at Ta’ Qali after a 2-1 win in the opening game against the Faroe Islands at Ta’ Qali. This will definitely be another difficult match for the boys in red as they face a team which is challenging for one of the two qualifying spots for EURO 2020.
Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina/MFA
Addressing the media on Saturday, Malta coach Ray Farrugia started by congratulating the Under-21 side for getting a positive result against Northern Ireland away from home, saying this augurs well for the future of Maltese football.
The Malta coach said that the senior team was coming from a difficult game against Norway and that this will be another difficult game. He said that the team was prepared well for this game and hopes the performance will improve over that of last Thursday.
Farrugia added that he was expecting Romania to come out and press for win as they were coming from a loss against Spain.
“They are coming from a loss against. Spain had 78% possession … the same for us, we lost 2-0 and Norway had 75% possession. But tomorrow is a different game. Every game has its own story. I am positively sure that Romania will play for a win. They need to win. We will give our utmost and then we will see after game.”
Romania fell into fourth place after Thursday’s matches as Sweden won against the Faroe Islands and Norway collected the three points against Malta. Romania now lie on the 7-point mark, following a 2-1 defeat to Norway away from home, a 4-1 over the Faroe Islands at home a 2-2 draw away from home to Norway, the 4-0 win over Malta at Ta” Qali and Thursday’s 1-2 loss to Spain in Bucharest.
“Sweden look favourites to finish second but I think both Romania and even Norway can still challenge. The reason is that there are still five games left. It’s a long way from now. Everything can happen in a game. So I think everybody is still with a chance.”
When asked to comment on Cosmin Contra’s statement that he was aiming to win with a lot of goals, Farrugia stressed that he only focusses on his team.
“I wish we can keep the ball more as this means we are not under pressure but I am sure that with the introduction of these young players together with the experienced ones, things will get better, positively sure the team will be a good team in future.”
“If we don’t do the same mistakes and finish the chances we had against Romania … I think that against Romania, it was one of the game where we created most chances in these qualifiers … if we do these things, we could give them a good run for their money.”
Steve Borg added “We all know that tomorrow’s match is a very difficult match for us. We are well prepared and are looking forward to try to get the most out of it.”
Referring to last June’s defeat to Romania, Steve Borg said “Before they scored the first goal, we had a very good chance to score before them. Luck did not favour us. We had a lot of clear goal chances but failed to take advantage and we also committed some mistakes at the back.”
“In each game, we are eager to play better. We are looking forward for this game in order to show who we really are.”
Ray Farrugia is expected to make some changes to the line-up and also to the tactical set-up on the field of play on Sunday.
“Our approach to the game will definitely change. When you have two matches in four days, you have to make changes. You rest players in the first game and they come in for the second. So tomorrow there will be some changes. We need fresh legs, for sure. There will be some changes. Our approach will be a bit different than against Norway.”
“Regarding injuries, we have to wait about Zach Muscat. We will see this evening there is also Paul Fenech was not 100%. We will definitely make some changes in the team. We will adopt a different approach as they play a different game compared to Norway. They are two different types of game. We will see after training as we would have a more clearer picture.”
In the match against Norway, Zach Muscat was forced to abandon the pitch injured and had to be replaced by Ferdinando Apap. Therefore unless Muscat is full fit, Apap is set to start at the back with Steve Borg, Andrei Agius and possibly Joseph Zerafa as Ray Farrugia will probably shift to a 5-4-1 or 4-5-1 formation.
Paul Fenech is expected to make way for Luke Gambin who was an unused substitute against Norway. Alfred Effiong is also expected to be named in the starting line-up after being used as a substitute on Thursday.
Sunday’s game will only be the second time the two countries met each other.
Romania coach Cosmin Contra named the following players for this game:
goalkeepers Ciprian Tătărușanu (Lyon), Florin Niță (Sparta Praga), Ionuț Radu (Genoa);
defenders Romario Benzar (Lecce), Vlad Chiricheș (Napoli), Ionuț Nedelcearu (FC Ufa), Dragoș Grigore (Ludogorets), Adrian Rus (MOL Fehérvár), Alin Toșca (Gazişehir Gaziantep), Florin Ștefan (Sepsi OSK);
midfielders Alexandru Chipciu (Anderlecht), Răzvan Marin (Ajax), Nicolae Stanciu (Slavia Praga), Alexandru Cicâldău (Universitatea Craiova) Mihai Bordeianu (CFR Cluj), Paul Anton (Krylya Sovetov), Ciprian Deac (CFR Cluj), Ianis Hagi (Genk), Alexandru Maxim (Mainz), Gheorghe Grozav (Kisvárda), Adrian Păun (CFR Cluj);
forwards Claudiu Keșeru (Ludogorets), George Pușcaș (Reading), Florin Andone (Brighton).
The match will be controlled by Croatian referee Duje Strukan.