Malta takes on Latvia in another match from Group D1 of the UEFA Nations League at the Daugavas stadions in Riga on Tuesday, kick-off at 18:00.
Following the appointment of Devis Mangia as new head coach of the Malta national team, Malta lost narrowly the first match against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn but then earned a point in a 1-1 draw with Latvia at Ta’ Qali and following a 2-0 win over Gibraltar in a friendly match, Malta collected another point in a goalless draw with Andorra away from home last Saturday.
Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina/MFA
In Andorra la Vella, Malta enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession but had few shots at goal. Speaking on Monday, Devis Mangia said “We are starting a project. We did a good first step. If we had good possession means that we are on the right track. It is clear that in the last third of the pitch, we must find some different solution against teams like Andorra who think only about defending. It is a first step.”
“This is not a question of offensive department, it is a question of team. We need to find a solution not only for the players who play up front because this could be due to various reasons. We have to improve this. A few months ago, we did not think about this but to have this possibility to have this kind of possession and to push the opponents in their midfield. Now we have to work to improve this. “
The Malta coach added “We played a good game and we will try to do the same tomorrow. Latvia is surely a good team and have individual players of a good level but I think that in Malta, we showed that we can play our game. We know that there is a huge difference in ranking (Latvia 137th and Malta 186th) but I think that in the first game we showed that we can play our game.”
“This will be a different game. Latvia is a different kind of opponent. They play more open. This team plays sometimes direct attack but is a team that tries to play the game and therefore I think it will be a more open game – completely different than the game against Andorra. We have to try to maintain control of the game … have more possession like we had at home against Latvia and against Andorra but I think it will be a different game. “
Malta is still chasing its first win in the group and achieving this in Riga is not easy at all. “After eight years, we managed to obtain three consecutive positive results. We need to play a very good game. I do not think that if we play a defensive game, we have more chance. We came here and and will try to play our game. It could happen that sometimes you are obliged to defend but we have to try to play our game and then we will see. “
Goalkeeper Henry Bonello added “The team improved as we are not being afraid of playing our game. We are having more ball possession and the only thing lacking so far is having more shots at goal and score more. “
“The mentality is changing. We are believing more in our capabilities and that we could achieve results.”
For this game, Devis Mangia welcomes back Matthew Guillaumier after serving a one-match ban. Kyrian Nwoko is, however, still unavailable.
Malta and Latvia met six times and this will be the third clash in Riga. On both occasions, Latvia won 2-0. So far, in Group D1, they collected three points in three draws – a goalless draw with Andorra in Riga, the 1-1 draw at Ta’ Qali and a 1-1 draw with the Faroe Islands in Torshavn last Saturday. On Tuesday, they therefore hope to register their first win in the group.