Russian test for Under-21 national team

Apart from the senior national team, the Malta Under-21 side is also in Russia for a match from Group C of the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifiers at the Arena Khimki, kick-off at 18:00.

Malta had a great start in this campaign, defeating Northern Ireland 4-1 on Friday. Russia, on the other hand, started on the wrong foot after losing 4-1 in Spain. 

Coach Gilbert Agius wants his players to momentarily forget this result and focus on the next encounter.  He expects them to face Russia on Tuesday with a different approach and mentality.  

“The weather contrast should also be kept in mind.  From the intensive 90 minutes in 35 degrees on Friday at home to 5 degrees and chilly weather here in Moscow, where we play on natural grass.  A striking difference to our preparations back home on the synthetic surface during this international window.  These could be seen as small issues but for the players make a lot of difference.”

“We have been fully focused on Tuesday’s match since Saturday.  The Russia match is completely different.  It is the second match in four days.”   

“The boys trained at 7am on Sunday before our departure from Malta, to be prepared for the the task ahead.  We had to check on the physical condition of a couple of players who suffered knocks in win over Northern Ireland.  We are monitoring the situation to ensure that we line up with possibly the best eleven on Tuesday at the Khimki Arena.”

“We have analysed the games of our opponents.  The players also had the opportunity to witness the attributes that our opponents possess.  We still have one final session, which is also an opportunity to familiarize with the pitch on Monday evening.   The team will surely give its 100% and then see how the game develpos”, Malta Under-21 coach Gilbert Agius concluded.