A new look Malta Under-21 side will be in action on Saturday at 19:00 in a friendly international match against Cyprus.
This game at the Centenary Stadium will mark a new era for this category at the National Team level, with several new players summoned for the first time as proceedings in this new cycle get underway ahead of next competition.
The previous qualifying edition was rounded off last June with an away fixture against daunting Spain, a competition wherein the team attained a welcome return of six points thanks to the double win over Northern Ireland.
Photos courtesy of Mark Zammit Cordina / Malta FA
Ahead of this friendly fixture against Cyprus, coach Gilbert Agius, who is setting the ball rolling to instil in this new look squad the identity and unified game philosophy the National Teams have been implementing in recent years, said “The squad at the moment contains a mixture of players from the previous cycle who are now joined by new blood, all charged up to grab the bull by its horns as they strive to establish themselves and cement a regular spot in this Under-21 squad going forward.”
“Not easy to make comparisons, the previous squad constituted the endeavor of a group of players for a total of 18 months, this squad is absolutely new, we’ve only been a week together, therefore still early days to understand one another, adopt our methods and what is required exactly from the boys.”
“In such circumstances of having so many new players, this is our opportunity for myself and the rest of my staff to overview and transmit with every individual representing this group of players, the style of play and philosophy we would like to apply.”
Gilbert Agius acknowledged that there are principles that must be revised, being that for some of the players in the current squad, this opportunity also represents emerging for the very first time training at this National Team level.
“We know what we want from this group of players, we are firm in our identity and playing system pushed forward by our Head Coach Mr Mangia, I am positive this group of players will ultimately reap benefits as a team, but we need to work hard on the training pitch before they truly understand what is required by them,” coach Agius stressed.
After Cyprus on Saturday, the team will get back straight to work as this tireless international break will see the Malta Under-21 team rub shoulders with Montenegro in a second friendly fixture on Monday at 19:00.
“We will also keep an eye on the established players in this squad, they are not the end product yet, they are on the right pathway but should also understand there is still room to step up and put into practice our methods, as we strive to move forward and further help this U21 group of players to grow and raise their game,” concluded Agius.