National coach Devis Mangia said he expected a better physical condition from the players as the national squad started preparation ahead of a busy schedule for Malta in the coming weeks but stressed that focus should turn to other aspects in case we are lacking in physical condition. Mangia was addressing the media ahead of the final preparations for the June international window.
In fact, for the first time, Malta will be playing four matches in twelve days. Malta hosts Venezuela in a friendly match on June 1 before travelling to San Marino for the first match from the UEFA Nations League, scheduled for June 5. Malta then hosts Estonia on June 9 and San Marino on June 12 in another two matches from the UEFA Nations League.
The first match will be against Venezuela.
“How we will approach this friendly depends on how we will work in these coming days because we have to check the condition of the players. Today (Monday) will be the first day of training with the whole group of players with the exception of Teddy Teuma and James Brown.”
Teuma played his last league game for Union St. Gilloise who secured a Champions League spot after finishing in the runner-up spot in the Belgian while James Brown played for St. Johnstone as they defeated Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the play-offs to retain their Premier League status in Scotland.
“Some of the players are not in a condition to train with the team. We are working with the medical staff to see if they would be able to recover.”
“I expected a better physical condition. We will try our best to improve. We will start working with the players who are currently available and will try to do our best as usual. Then we make a decision, close to the game against Venezuela, to reduce the players in the squad. “
“The fact that some players stopped early and that some players did not play the last games of the season did not help them to be in the best condition.”
“We will see what we can do in the coming weeks and see if we can improve the physical condition. But I believe that football is not only about the physical condition, it is more about the mental aspect. We will see how we will work in the coming days and hopefully we will have players in good condition. Some decisions that I will need to take will obviously take in consideration the physical aspect.”
“We have to improve the physical condition. But this is not an excuse because if we are not in a good physical condition, we will try to find the resources in another way. I have to consider this physical aspect.”
“I have not seen on the pitch yet the players of Floriana, Valletta and Hibs and then Teuma and Brown and then we will see to be able to do a good analysis.”
“Only then I could decide, for example, what approach we will take against Venezuela. Maybe for some players, it would be useful to play this friendly or part of it while for others, it will be better to just do more training to prepare for the other games against San Marino and Estonia because there are a lot of things to consider.”
“We have to consider that San Marino can be in similar situation as us while Estonia is in a completely different situation because they are mid-way through the season. In the same way, it would be a different situation in September.”
Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina
When asked whether Venezuela were the ideal opponent ahead of this game, the Malta coach admitted that Malta was obliged to play a friendly and that there was not much choice in trying to find an opponent, also considering that all European countries are involved in the UEFA Nations League and Malta was unlucky to be drawn in a group of three teams.
“We have to plan day by day, match by match. The only game which we can manage is the match against Venezuela and then we will see. We will do our evaluation by what we will see and through the tests to check what kind of recovery we have between one match and another. The physical and mental aspect are both very important.”
“The players need to show me that we want to do something good and we have to put everything on the pitch. Sometimes you would need to make up for the lack in physical condition with the willingness to achieve something. This is something which I expect from my players.”
The Malta coach said that Estonia are at an advantage as they will be playing two matches now and another two in September, unlike Malta and San Marino who will be playing three matches in June.
“It is not an excuse but it is a fact. This is the first time we are playing a friendly and three official games. Mid-way through the season, you could have a player playing three games out of three but now we have to check whether it would be possible in the situation that we are facing. “
With regards to Floriana captain Matias Garcia, who received a first national team call-up, Mangia said that the association promised him that he would be available for the UEFA Nations League matches but admitted he is not aware of developments with regards to the application for his Maltese passport.
“He is here because we think he is a player that can help us, also considering the problems we have in that department. Bjorn Kristensen is ruled out while with regards to Steve Pisani, we need to check since he did not play the last games with Gzira.”
Teddy Teuma and Ryan Camenzuli are ruled out of the match against San Marino as they serve a one-match ban after being sent off in the game against Slovakia. Kristensen is not even part of the provisional squad while Steve Pisani, Cain Attard and Luke Montebello are all recovering from injuries
“We have two players who are suspended for the first game (against San Marino). We have to think, balance and manage the resources that we have. As I said before, if we cannot achieve something with the physical condition, we have to achieve something with other resources, for example technical or tactical.”