After losing narrowly to the Faroe Islands and a draw with Latvia, Malta will be aiming for a win as Devis Mangia’s side takes on Andorra in another match from Group D1 of the UEFA Nations League at the Estadi Nacional in Andorra la Vella on Saturday, kick-off at 20:45.
In preparation for this game, Malta played a friendly match against Gibraltar on Wednesday, winning 2-0, courtesy of Kyrian Nwoko and Triston Caruana.
Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina/MFA
A win which could boost the morale ahead of Saturday’s game as Malta seeks the first win in the group.
Addressing the media on Friday, national coach Devis Mangia said “Gibraltar is the past. In football, what you did yesterday is not important, the important thing is what you do tomorrow. We played a good game but that is the past.”
Steve Borg added “Against Gibraltar, we were not expecting anything other than a win. It was a friendly match but served as good preparation for these coming games.”
Against Gibraltar, national coach Devis Mangia named an experimental side as he tried to give an opportunity to new players and others who previously had limited playing time with the national team.
Asked about the performance of individual players, he refused to point that out.
“Four players made their debut, others were playing their second or third match. I had a good response from the players. I don’t like to talk about individual players. Generally, we played a good game. Not perfect from a technical point of view due to a number of mistakes.”
When asked about about the young players in the squad, Steve Borg said that all players are of a level which is good enough to play for the national team.
“They are doing quite well both in training and in games. They obviously need to gain experience – something which they would only gain by playing games and improving on their mistakes.”
Asked about whether there will be tactical changes for the game against Andorra, Mangia said “We have our idea. We play with our philosophy and try to improve. The idea is not to change our philosophy. Obviously, sometimes we will find difficulties but we do not change our idea to play that kind of game.”
When asked if he feels the team is now under pressure to achieve results, Steve Borg said “There is always pressure in any game. We always try to win. Now under the new coach, there was improvement which was visible especially in some of the games where we played good football. Unfortunately we lost the first game, in the second one we obtained a draw and now we hope to take the three points against Andorra and then keep moving forward.”
On Saturday, Mangia will be unable to field his best formation as Matthew Guillaumier is ruled out through suspension after receiving two yellow cards in the previous two matches while Kyrian Nwoko sustained an injury in Wednesday’s game and failed to make the trip to Andorra.
Rowen Muscat and Luke Montebello could be the ones to replace Guillaumier and Nwoko.
Henry Bonello is set to start in goal with Steve Borg, Enrico Pepe and Zach Muscat at the back, Joseph Mbong and Ryan Camenzuli on the flanks, Teddy Teuma and Rowen Muscat in midfield with Jurgen Degabriele and Luke Gambin supporting Luke Montebello.
Like Malta, so far, Andorra earned one point from Group D1 thanks to a goalless draw with Latvia away from home, followed by a 0-1 defeat to Faroe Islands at home.
Malta and Andorra met twice at Ta’ Qali in 2000 and 2002, both matches ending in 1-1 draws. This will therefore be the first competitive match between Malta and Andorra.
Andorra coach Koldo Álvarez de Eulate could not count on the suspended Marc Rebés and Moi San Nicolás while Ludo, Max Llovera and Chus Rubio, are ruled out injured. However, six players from the Under-21 side which held England in a 3-3 draw on Wednesday join the squad, namely Iker, Cervós, Aláez, Àlex Martínez, Alavedra and Ricard Fernández Betriu who scored two of the goals.
The match will be controlled by Alain Durieux of Luxembourg who will be assisted by Gilles François Becker and Joaquim Da Silva and fourth official Ricardo Morais.