Clash with Estonia in September will determine promotion, says Mangia

Malta earned its first three points in Group D2 of the UEFA Nations League after goals by Jan Busuttil and Matthew Guillaumier handed Devis Mangia’s side a 2-0 win over San Marino at the San Marino Stadium on Sunday.

The team’s performance in the first half was quite disappointing as although possession was far superior for Malta – 66%, the boys in red almost had the same number of attempts – four, compared to San Marino’s three.

Speaking after the game, Mangia said “We did not play a positive first half.  Too much technical mistakes in my opinion. We did not move enough without the ball … the ball moved slowly. Probably it was due to a bit of tension. You have to understand that when you  feel that around you everyone is saying that you must win, that is something which is not normal for Malta. You can find some difficulties.”

With the inclusion of Juan Corbalan and Jan Busuttil in the beginning of the second half, the team improved considerably.

“In the second half, we did better. We played better from a technical point of view. Busuttil and Corbalan played a good game but all the other players improved their performance in the second half.”

Malta will be in action once again on Thursday, hosting Estonia, playing another game against San Marino on Sunday at Ta’ Qali.

Asked whether the game against Estonia on Thursday will be decisive, Mangia said “This will be a different game. They have a different style of football and are strong from a physical point of view. They are mid-way through the domestic season. But I do not think this game will decide anything. The game in Estonia in Sepotember will decide the group in my opinion.“

In fact, Malta will travel to Tallinn for the clash with Estonia on September 23. Estonia will then play their final match in San Marino on September 27.

The group winner will be promoted to League C.

Photo: Copyright domenic aquilina / Malta FA