National coach Devis Mangia said that the friendly match against Liechtenstein was another important step for the national team as more players gained more international experience. Mangia was speaking after the comfortable 3-0 win at the National Stadium on Wednesday.
“This was another step for us. We played a good game. Some players made their first appearance, others made their second or third. It is important that the young, and not so young, players gain experience.”
“We maintained control throughout the game although there were instances where we committed some technical mistakes. It is important that we give the possibility to more players to play more international matches and give others the chance to play for the first time in the senior time. The performance and result were good. We have now obtained five consecutive positive results and maintained four consecutive clean sheets. “
Mangia added that he had told the players that apart from extending the positive run, he wanted to maintain another clean sheet. He said that this result means that the team played with the right attitude.
“We have to work knowing that we must improve – not that we can improve – we must improve. We started a project, we started with one idea. It is important the players follow this idea and that they believe in this. I want to give my compliments to the players and to my staff as they have really been doing a great job for the past weeks. We are a team that is working together and that is the biggest change.”
On Saturday, Malta faces Andorra in the penultimate game from Group D1 of the UEFA Nations League. Following the win over Latvia last month, Malta lies in second place, five points behind the Faroe Islands.
“Now we need to focus on Andorra. This is the most important game now. We have to play our game, be careful how to approach the game, have the right attitude, do our best and if possible win the game. “
“We have to learn from the match we played there. We will continue to work in the next two days to find the best solution to create more opportunities in the final third of the pitch. It is true that we had much more possession but we were not so good in the last twenty five metres. We have to be very careful because Andorra is a tough team that can create problems. Usually they leave possession to the other team but they are very good in counter-attack. We are really focussed on this game and are not losing energy on other matters. We need to be one hundred percent focussed on this game.”
Like it was the case of the game against Gibraltar, Mangia took the opportunity to use this game to try new players ahead of two games from the UEFA Nations League.
“If one player is here, it means he deserves to be here and if one deserves to be here, he can play anytime. We took this decision … some of the players played a very good game. We will analyse the performances and make our decisions for the Andorra game. It is good to have more choice.”
With regards to Michael Mifsud’s last appearance for the national team, Mangia said “Compliments to Michael Mifsud. I think this was the best way to end his career with the national team. He played a good game and showed what is the passion to play football. This was a great message for the young players.”
“Michael showed that he is an example for the young players because for a player to come and play with this passion. He plays football because he likes to play football and this is a very good message.”
“The young players should learn from Michael’s example. We have players with such qualities. I hope to recover somebody for the next game but we do have players with qualities. To become a very good player, they have to do the step that Michael did in his career when he went to play abroad at a high level. I hope that the young players learn from this and I believe they have the skills. We are here to give them the chance to play but then it is up to them to show they deserve to play.”
Photos: Copyright domenic aquilina/MFA