A spirited performance by the Malta women’s national team was not enough as Mark Gatt’s side were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Morocco, in the second game of the VisitMalta Women’s Trophy.
Malta, ranked 95th in the world, were at the back of a 3-1 win over Moldova and were looking to for a positive result against a Morocco side that sits 78th in the FIFA Rankings.
The North African side, who are hopeful of qualifying to next year’s Women’s World Cup for the first time, were the better team in the first half and they made their pressure count through a Sanaa Mssoudy goal on the 28th minute.
Photos courtesy of Domenic Aquilina/MFA SportsPlus Ltd
After the break, Malta staged a reaction in an attempt to salvage a positive result from this game but their efforts were in vain as they could not find the net.
For the Malta coach, this was his 60th game in charge – an all-time record for the women’s team. Coach Gatt made a few changes from the Moldova game including Dorianne Theuma who was in the starting formation, collecting her 110th cap. Emma Lipman was also included after being unavailable for selection for the tournament opener.
In the opening stages of the game, both Malta and Morocco exchanged proceedings but neither side could find a breakthrough, highlighting the competitiveness of the two set of teams on the pitch.
As the half wore on, Morocco started to pile up the pressure on the hosts but could not find a way to test goalkeeper Patricia Ebejer, until the 27th minute when the North African side opened the score. Morocco’s left winger Sanaa Mssoudy pounced on a loose ball inside the penalty area before firing past Ebejer. Malta’s reply came swiftly through Dorianne Theuma who let fly a strike from the edge of the area but could not find the target.
Malta tried to stage a late rally in the closing stages of opening 45 minutes but Morocco kept them at bay as Gatt’s side trailed by one at half-time.
At the restart, the Malta coach inserted three new faces in Emma Xuereb, Shona Zammit and Maria Farrugia as the hosts were looking for a leveller.
On the 64th minute, Rachel Cuschieri tried her luck from a long-range free-kick that sailed over the bar.
Malta continued to inch their way up the field, growing in confidence minute by minute but they still could not make their pressure count.
On the other hand, Morocco were now banking on their defensive phase as they were looking to catch the Maltese on the break and possibly wrap up the victory.
Substitute Samya Hassani almost sealed the win for Morocco when she caught the backline on the break, made her way into the box but fired her shot wide from goal.
Ten minutes from time, coach Gatt deployed forward Francesca Chircop to bolster the attacking department as Malta were still hopeful of a late draw.
On the 87th minute, Lazio midfielder Cuschieri let fly a strike from the edge of the area but once again could not find the target.
At the end, Morocco managed to keep Malta at bay to clinch the victory. They will be involved in the third and final game of the tournament when they cross swords with Moldova, next Tuesday.
MALTA Patricia Ebejer; Ann-Marie Said (46 Maria Farrugia), Emma Lipman, Stephania Farrugia, Dorianne Theuma (79 Francesca Chircop), Rachel Cuschieri, Alishia Sultana (46 Emma Xuereb), Charlene Zammit, Brenda Borg (46 Shona Zammit), Nicole Sciberras, Haley Bugeja.
MOROCCO Khadija Errmichi; Zineb Redouani, Siham Boukhami, Ghizlane Chhiri (35 Samia Fikri), Hanane Ait Elhaj, Ghizlane Chebbak, Salma Amani, Najat Badri (82 Elodie Nahla Nakkach), Imane Saoud (67 Samya Hassani), Sanaa Mssoudy, Rosella Ayane.
Referee: Maria Ennsgraber (Austria FA).