MFA President Bjorn Vassallo has expressed his and the Association’s disappointment at the national team’ 1-0 defeat away to the Faroe Islands in a EURO 2020 Group F qualifying match, played last Tuesday.
Speaking at the start of the Council meeting on Thursday, Vassallo, who was elected Malta FA President last July, explained the plans as outlined in the Vision 2027 strategy to try and raise the level of the national team and Maltese players both in the short and long term.
Photo: Copyright © 2019 domenic aquilina
These projects include changes in the strategy of the Technical Centre which will kick off with the imminent appointment of a new Technical Director, the introduction of new development programmes and the creation of a new foundation to oversee football development at grassroots level. The Malta FA President also spoke about plans to enter a club in the Italian Lega Pro championship to enable Maltese players to train and play at a professional level.
“The expectations for the qualifier against the Faroe Islands last Tuesday were high as the general perception is that we were facing a team on a par with us, also fuelled by the fact that we had managed to win the home qualifier back in March,” said Vassallo.
“I share the public’s disappointment about the result and performance. Our national team’s performance left a lot to be desired. While we are aware of our limitations and, in this context, our tactics in matches against big teams are understandable, this was a game where our team was expected to go out to win but this was not the case and we’re very disappointed.”
The Malta FA President, however, added: “Although I’m very disappointed, I’m not surprised about the results of the national team. We have been discussing and debating the shortcomings of Maltese football for several years. In the campaign leading up to the election of Malta FA President, both candidates discussed plans for the future, emphasising the importance of stepping up the level of our national teams.”
“No president or organisation can guarantee anything bar the implementation of a long-term plan aimed at producing better Maltese players as well as some quick measures. Looking beyond the 11-vs-11 on the field of play, in truth Faroe Islands had nine professional players in their squad for Tuesday’s match and we only had two.”
“The crux of everything is having a professional approach. We are competing at the highest level but we are lagging behind. This makes it imperative on us to implement the planned projects – we will not stand still.”
“To do all this, a collective effort is needed – we can’t do it all on our own but we have already had fruitful discussions with the relevant authorities who are willing to support us in implementing these projects.”
Vassallo also spoke about the position of national coach Ray Farrugia.
“Regarding the national coach, this is not a question of pointing fingers at one or two individuals,” Vassallo said.
“Ray Farrugia has a contract until the end of this year. We will be evaluating the situation after the end of the EURO 2020 qualifying round and we have sufficent time to do this as the next competition for the national team starts in the latter part of next year.”
The appointment of a new Technical Director to succeed Robert Gatt is a priority for the Malta FA.
“The first major appointment will be that of Technical Director and this will be announced soon,” Vassallo said.
“We will be implementing the changes at the Technical Centre outlined in my Vision 2027 document to streamline the philosophy of the national teams at all levels and the other pillars of the new foundation, including the Talent Optimisation Programme.”
Referring to the statement issued by the South End Core, Vassallo said: “The South End Core today issued a statement on Social Media expressing their disappointment following Tuesday’s qualifier.
“I understand and share their frustrations. We had a group of Maltese fans, co-ordinated by the South End Core, who made the long journey with us to the Faroe Islands and their support was outstanding. Their disappointment at the team’s performance is justified but I remain upbeat as we have a clear plan. For our national team there is a long way to go.”