The first international appointment for the Under-21 national team in 2022 is scheduled for Tuesday as Malta hosts Lithuania at the Centenary Stadium, kick-off at 16:00.
Match number seven for the team in this UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group C as they currently sit comfortably in mid-table having won twice against Northern Ireland with whom they share the fourth place, three points ahead of Lithuania.
This positive situation in the current standings will only serve to charge our players in pushing to their limits and pursue a remarkable campaign that will stand out as one of the best competitions for our nation at this level.
Malta Under-21 coach Gilbert Agius however is more focused on a solid performance on Tuesday against Lithuania and his overriding commitment to develop this group of players in their undisputed aim to further improve and one day represent their country at National Team level.
Agius added, “In football, there are fine margins between performing well and to the best of your ability and failing, therefore on Tuesday we must ensure to stay focused over the entire 90 minutes and build on some positive outings the boys previously delivered in this competition.”
“My main focus remains unchanged, the improvement of this group of players is fundamental, this is my main target. Results are important also at this level and I will never underestimate the efforts off all my players in notching up six points already, the key factor in my role here nonetheless is to help them grow further and step up to represent Malta at senior team level.”
“Lithuania are a good side, we only lost 2-1 in the reverse fixture in their backyard in October, since then many things have changed. They play direct football, possess some good skilful football players, also physically are stronger than us, therefore we have to be at the top of our game, show full desire and commitment to stand a chance for a positive outing come Tuesday afternoon.
Gilbert Agius was also asked about the limited playing time domestically of his squad.
“The situation is very clear. We have been discussing this for quite a while. Few of my players do command significant playing time with their clubs albeit at lower categories, but barring all that and a situation which is beyond our means, we also look at other matters, their attitude, personality and nutrition are only three of other factors we notice in our players, we are here to help this group of players grow and perform to their highest standards.
Agius also commented about the last outing before this and the 2-0 win in Northern Ireland last November.
“The result was terrific, perhaps not really fair on the level of performance between the teams, physically we were torn apart but we managed to benefit from their mistakes and scored two sensational goals, maximising our transition play particularly in the second goal to score maximum points in our encounters against them in this group.”
“That game is now behind us we take all the positives from that fabulous trip but now we shall focus on this afternoon, yet again I reaffirm the importance of a solid performance and hopefully one more positive result this time against Lithuania,” added Gilbert Agius.