The Maltese national team have not enjoyed the greatest run of form. Drawn against Russia, Croatia and Slovakia in World Cup Qualifiers, they will not be making the trip to the World Cup in Qatar. So, while November and December might be quiet months for the Malta national football team, they still have a full diary of UEFA Nations League football to play.
In 2021, Malta’s best results came against Andorra, who they beat 3 – 1. There were also positive results against Liechtenstein in a 3 – 0 drubbing and against Latvia by a single goal. However, as soon as the team from the small island met the bigger teams, they came under significant pressure, often losing by up to seven goals.
Photo: Copyright domenic aquilina/Malta FA
This history in mind takes a brave gambler to bet on Maltese national football. Yet, with optimism being blind, let’s explore the 2022 fixtures for moments when a gamble, on popular sites like OlyBet, might pay off.
March offers some opportunity for early success for Devis Manga and his team. The team first play at home to Azerbaijan and then Kuwait in friendly matches. The opportunity to get the year off to a positive start is high.
Malta FA President Bjorn Vassallo backs his most experienced player to step up for Malta. He hailed Andrei Agius as one the country’s greatest defenders and an inspiration for youngsters. The Azerbaijan game will be his 103rd cap – a massive achievement.
June presents greater challenges as the Malta team enters their UEFA Nations League match’s round. Though it is away, the opening match against San Marino should be competitive, and rivalries will be intense. The return trip is probably a better opportunity to take a Malta win.
The games against Cyprus or Estonia could be a challenge, with the Maltese likely to prefer Cyprus. While Estonia has never qualified for the World Cup or European Championship, they have gotten through to the playoffs before, losing a tie to Ireland. They are a team growing in skill and reputation and some 64 places higher in the FIFA rankings. Malta defeated Cyprus at home and drew in Larnaca in the World Cup group and would be favourites to succeed in these matches.
While the Malta team would have been hoping to use September to prepare for the World Cup, they will likely play two friendly matches against other teams preparing for the ultimate stage. With the fixtures yet to be announced, these will likely be tough opposition looking to test out strategy.
A year to build on
2021 was disappointing, but as Mangia notes, this is not the time to turn away from the Malta national team. The three draws, especially those against Slovakia and Croatia, proved the team positively. While they won’t be heading out to Qatar, the Maltese have a genuine chance to make 2022 a positive for all by continuing their positive run of form.
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