Michael Mifsud will be making one final appearance for the national team on Wednesday as Malta takes on Liechtenstein in a friendly match at the National Stadium, kick-off at 18:00.
The former Malta captain, who is now 39 years old, would therefore bring the curtain down onto his career with the national team during which he played a record 142 matches and scored a record 41 goals for the national team.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, Mifsud said that he was feeling emotional, playing this final game for the national team and said he hoped to finish his international career on a positive note by helping the team achieve a positive result.
“I hope we achieve a good result … a good performance to end on a positive note. As usual, I will give my 100% to help my team mates achieve a positive result. I would like to thank the Malta Football Association and the MFA President for this opportunity following a long career with the Malta national team.”
Playing against Liechtenstein will also bring in mind the excellent feat by Michael Mifsud as he scored five in Malta’s largest win ever – a 7-1 win in a friendly match in March 2008. This will be the fifth time Malta plays Liechtenstein. Apart from the 7-1 win, Malta had defeated Liechtenstein 2-1 in another friendly match at Ta’ Qali in February 2012 and later 1-0 in Vaduz in November 2012. In the first ever meeting between the two teams, Liechtenstein and Malta had shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw in June 1981 in the President’s Cup in Korea.
Meanwhile when asked to single out any moments to remember and any regrets while playing for the national team, Michael Mifsud said “I will always remember the win over Armenia away from home. The biggest disappointments, on the other hand, were losing matches after conceding goals in the dying minutes.”
“In twenty years, there have been big changes, not only in the dressing room but also in the actual game. There seems to be a bright future for the national team. The team is playing good football and the coach and the technical staff have a clear philosophy and a clear idea of what they want to achieve,” added Mifsud.
One of the two assistant coaches of the Malta national team, Davide Mazzotta, who was speaking in the absence of head coach Devis Mangia, said “It would be great if we could celebrate this occasion with a good performance. This game will be a celebration for all for what Michael has given to the Malta national team and what the national team gave him. The team will support him throughout the game but apart from this, the team should work hard, play a great game, at least in terms of determination shown on the field of play, without taking anything for granted.”
“All matches are important, no matter whether they are friendly or competitive matches, UEFA Nations League or World Cup qualifiers. We will always try to impose our game. This is the mentality of the coach – the objective is always the same – to learn and grow, to play our game, according to our ideas and the identity we are trying to create, targeting the team’s exponential growth in a constant and gradual manner.”
“This game will continue to help our team grow and continue the journey our coach had prepared. This is a journey which is following the philosophy of our head coach. This game will also help us watch in action, the younger players who have joined the squad recently. We would take the opportunity to try as many players as possible. “
This match should be an important test ahead of the two UEFA Nations League clashes with Andorra on Saturday and against the Faroe Islands on Tuesday. Therefore apart from attempting to extend the positive run of four positive results from the last four matches – the draw with Latvia and the win over Gibraltar at Ta’ Qali and the draw with Andorra and the win over Latvia away from home, this will be an opportunity for the new players to shine and maybe earn a place in the final squad or even the starting line-up for the clashes with Andorra and the Faroe Islands.
Mazzotta stressed that Malta will not take this game lightly.
“We would not underestimate our opponents or take this game lightly. All games are important and we have to face them with the right attitude and determination.”
Guillermo Giacomazzi, the other assistant coach of the Malta national team, added “We are on a journey but there is still a lot of work to do. However, we are on the right track. There are a number of good players and a lot of enthusiasm and what we want is to put forward our ideas and philosophy.”
Despite the absence of head coach Devis Mangia from the training sessions over the past days as he was under mandatory quarantine, Giacomazzi said that there has been constant communication with Mangia, before and after training sessions – how these would be programmed and later analysed.
Mazzotta added that despite the fact that there were also a number of players who were ruled out due to COVID-19 issues, the preparation for these three games did not change.
In fact, among the players who are ruled out for testing positive for COVID-19 or for being forced to stay under mandatory quarantine due to team mates testing positive, there are Zach Muscat, Paul Mbong and Luke Montebello who featured regularly in the Malta starting line-up in recent outings.
As it was the case with the friendly against Gibraltar last month, some new faces are expected to be named in the starting line-up.
Floriana’s Jan Busuttil, Aidan Friggieri of Gudja United and Alex Satariano of Sliema Wanderers have earned their first senior call-up, joining other young players like Valletta forward Shaun Dimech and Sliema Wanderers defender Kurt Shaw who have retained their place in the senior squad while Valletta defender Jean Borg is back after recovering from injury.
Valletta forward Kyrian Nwoko is back in the frame after recovering from the injury that kept him out of the Andorra draw and the Latvia win. Devis Mangia has also recalled Sliema Wanderers striker Jean Paul Farrugia, Ħamrun Spartans winger Juan Corbalan, and Żejtun Corinthians’ flank player Neil Tabone.
Assistant coach Davide Mazzotta thanked the MFA president for his support throughout these particular times, the staff, the medical and ancillary staff, the players for working hard and especially, Guillermo Giacomazzi and technical coordinator Alessandro Zinnari for their support.
Henry Bonello (Valletta); Matthew Calleja Cremona (Hibernians); Jake Galea (Sliema Wanderers).
Andrei Agius (Hibernians); Jean Borg (Valletta); Steve Borg (Gżira United); Triston Caruana (Valletta); Karl Micallef (Ħamrun Spartans); Kurt Shaw (Sliema Wanderers).
Jan Busuttil (Floriana); Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Shaun Dimech (Valletta); Jean Paul Farrugia (Sliema Wanderers); Luke Gambin (Colchester United – England); Jake Grech (Hibernians); Michael Mifsud (Sirens FC)*; Kyrian Nwoko (Valletta); Alex Satariano (Sliema Wanderers).