Malta coach Devis Mangia stressed on the importance of resuming the Premier League in order for the players to be well-prepared for the European Qualifiers in programme in September.
Mangia was speaking after the 1-3 defeat to Russia in the first game from Group H of the European Qualifiers leading to the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the National Stadium on Wednesday.
“From a physical point of view, we have to grow to play against such teams. As national team coach, it is important that the Premier League resumes. It has to continue because if we stop and then wait for four months, like last year, and then face the September qualifiers, it is not possible to play these kind of games. If I am not mistaken, this is the only country in Europe that stopped the league. This is not normal, in my opinion.”
“It is important that we change the situation. We cannot be the only country that have this kind of problem. If so, what can I ask from the players: to be fit? How is that possible if they do not train for three, four months, and then ask them to play a World Cup qualifier in September? It is not possible. Just like they did in other countries, we can do that in Malta while giving priority to health. “
Turning to Wednesday’s game, the Malta coach said “Considering all, I am satisfied about the performance. We did some mistakes but with regards to performance, especially during the second half, I am really satisfied.”
“We are working and we have to grow step by step. This was another step. We played against one team that was in the quarter-finals of the last World Cup. We cannot forget this. In the second half, I think, we were in control. We had more shots at goal. One should not only consider ball possession but also shots at goal. This is important. It is clear that we have to improve. I don’t blame one department for a mistake. When there is a mistake, it is a mistake of the whole team. When we do something good, the team makes something good. I don’t change this idea.”
Asked whether the inclusion of Alex Satariano and Paul Mbong made the whole difference in the second half, “In the second half, till the first thirty – thirty five minutes, we played with a very good personality. Maybe a little more free from a mental point of view. In the beginning, there was maybe a little bit of pressure.”
“I am not satisfied or happy with the final result. I think that considering the performance, we have to finish 2-1, if not 2-2. We had to avoid the third goal.”
“We have to continue to think that we can improve. We did a good performance but we have to try to improve. I don’t like to speak about the results. At this moment, it is not a question of results but to continue to have this mentality because today, we played our game although the result was not good. We played our game and in my opinion, this is something that I want my players to continue to believe in. In this way, we can build something.”
Malta will be in action, once again, on Saturday, facing Slovakia in Trnava. Slovakia were held in a goalless draw by Cyprus away from home in one of the other matches in programme on Wednesday.
Asked whether this would affect his players, Mangia said “We cannot be affected by the results of the other teams. We need to focus on what we can manage. The important thing is that I can see improvement all the time. We have to continue in this way if we want to build something. The result is not the most important thing at this moment. It is clear that once you go on the pitch, you do your best but I have to look forward and look also at other things in order to build something and maybe give the possibility to some players to gain experience. That is our target at the moment. “
The squad leaves Malta, destination Bratislava, on Thursday at 16:00. Slovakia vs Malta will be played at the Štadión Antona Malatinského.
Photos (below): Copyright domenic aquilina/MFA