Following the 2-3 defeat to the Faroe Islands in Torshavn and the 1-1 draw with Latvia, Malta plays the first of three matches in a week, hosting Gibraltar in a friendly match at the National Stadium on Wednesday, kick-off at 18:00.
The match against Gibraltar was originally scheduled for March 26 and was expected to mark Devis Mangia’s debut as Malta national coach but the game was eventually called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Playing against Gibraltar should be a good test for Malta ahead of the two UEFA Nations League matches away from home against Andorra on Saturday and Latvia on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, Devis Mangia said the game against Gibraltar will give him the possibility to evaluate some players who did not have enough space in the first two games.
Against the Faroe Islands and Latvia, Mangia utilised sixteen players handing Enrico Pepe, Teddy Teuma and the young Paul Mbong their debut.
For these games, Mangia has included two new faces, midfielder Joseph Muscatt, who is on the books of German club SC Paderborn 07, and Samir Arab, of Balzan. Hibernians midfielder Bjorn Kristensen and Birkirkara forward Luke Montebello are back in the frame together with Sliema Wanderers defender Kurt Shaw who was part of the U-21 squad for the recent UEFA Under-21 qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Romania.
Mangia said that he has a group of 28 players and that he will be trying to give most player the chance to show there qualities in these games.
“They will have the possibility to show their qualities in these three games and I expect the players to that they give a valid contribution to the team.”
“Tomorrow is an important game and then we focus on the other two. All the players which will be involved in tomorrow ‘s game have to understand the importance of this game.”
“We have to think about the first game now. It is clear that at the beginning of this new project, I am focusing more on the performance of the team but the result is also an important target as at the end, it is the result that would be remembered.”
The performance against the Faroe Islands was excellent while against Latvia, Malta earned its first point.
Mangia stressed that the team needs to continue building on these performances.
“Of course, there is room for improvement as we are just at the beginning of this project. I expect something better from a physical point of view as since the last games, the players have played a few league matches. As national team, we did not have a lot of time together but in national teams, it is always the same …. the time is never enough to prepare the game.”
“I think that it is important for us to play good football and I think that to play good football is the way how to obtain results. Without following a philosophy, we can win a game but we would build nothing. The result should be the consequence of a good performance. Without good football, good ideas and good performances, it is hard to obtain results.”
“We are here to improve. Obviously we cannot change everything in five days in September and four days now … we need time but so far, the players I have at my disposal are showing a good attitude and that they want to improve.”
We have to keep the continuity in the performance
Physically in september we did not play any games while our opponents had played around 15 league games Mentally we made our evauliations, somehting which would change with time. insist on belief on a certain football philosophy whih would benefit how we control a game. for example when a team makes something changes the game in its favour, to keep the score in your faviour you need to continue doing the same thing which puts you ahead or change plans or relax, or defend as that is not the way
Colchester United’s Luke Gambin, who was back in the starting line-up for Malta in the last two game said “We have three important games. Everyone in the group is positive and feeling good. We are looking forward to win.”
“There is a very positive vibe around the group. We have some very good young players and experienced ones and thanks to the coach and his staff, we are able to work and learn. Every time we come here. we are always looking to move forward step by step, little by little. I feel that everyone is enjoying it every time we play. We want to do well and work hard for each other,” added Gambin
Gibraltar does not bring nice memories to Maltese football fans as back in June 2013, they had registered their first ever win, beating Malta 1-0 in a friendly match.
Last month, Gibraltar opened their UEFA Nations League account with a narrow win over San Marino. A win which brought to an end a losing streak consisting of twelve defeats in which they they suffered 43 goals and scored five.
Gibraltar coach Julio Ribas named a twenty-three man squad which includes just three foreign-based players – Dayle Coleing of Northern Irish side Glentoran, defender Louie Annesley of Blackburn Rovers and forward Reece Styche of English non-league side Buxton.
The players selected by Ribas are:
goalkeepers Kyle Goldwin, Jamie Robba, Dayle Coleing
defenders Jack Sergeant, Jayce Olivero, Erin Barnett, Scott Wiseman, Louie Annesley, Aymen Mouelhi, Ethan Jolley, Kenneth Chipolina, Brad Power
midfielders Liam Walker, Kyle Casciaro, Alain Pons, Mohamed Badr, Graeme Torrilla, Kian Ronan, Jaron Vinet
forwards Lee Casciaro, Tjay De Barr, Jamie Coombes, Reece Styche
The Malta squad is made up of:
goalkeepers Henry Bonello (Valletta); Matthew Calleja Cremona (Hibernians); Jake Galea (Sliema Wanderers).
defenders Andrei Agius (Hibernians); Steve Borg (Gżira United); Triston Caruana (Valletta); Karl Micallef (Ħamrun Spartans); Zach Muscat (Casa Pia AC – Portugal); Enrico Pepe (Birkirkara); Kurt Shaw (Sliema Wanderers).
midfielders Samir Arab (Balzan); Cain Attard (Birkirkara); Myles Beerman (Sliema Wanderers); Ryan Camenzuli (Floriana); Matthew Guillaumier (Birkirkara); Bjorn Kristensen (Hibernians); Joseph Mbong (Ħamrun Spartans); Rowen Muscat (Valletta); Joseph Muscatt (SC Paderborn – Germany); Steven Pisani (Balzan); Teddy Teuma (Royale Union Saint-Gilloise – Belgium).
forwards Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Shaun Dimech (Valletta); Luke Gambin (Colchester United – England); Jake Grech (Hibernians); Paul Mbong (Birkirkara); Luke Montebello (Birkirkara); Kyrian Nwoko (Valletta).