Toze Mendes urges players not to fear opponents and dream big

Malta Under-19 national coach Toze Mendes urged players not to fear opponents and dream big as Malta prepares for the first outing in Group A of the the UEFA Under-19 Championship against Italy at the National Stadium on Monday, kick-off at 21:00.

While acknowledging the fact that the team may face tough opponents who are better than them, Mendes stated that he would accept bad results as long as the team showed courage and did not let fear hinder their performance.

The emotional aspect of playing for the national team was also a point of focus for Mendes. He said that the experience of representing the country could be overwhelming for the young players, and he emphasized the need to channel those emotions into mental and physical focus. Mendes said the team is working on strategies to overcome these emotions and remain composed on the field of play.

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina / Malta FA

The Malta Under-19 coach spoke about the challenges posed by the availability of the players, with half the squad playing abroad. He said that despite the players’ commitments with their respective clubs, Malta-based players met three times a week although in the end, only ten of the Malta-based players are part of the final squad.

Mendes recognized that the foreign-based players have brought a different level of football and professionalism to the squad. He said that their experience of playing in different leagues and environments have contributed to raising the overall standard of the team.

Mendes viewed the upcoming period as a tremendous challenge, not just for the team but also for the entire country. He expressed confidence that, in the future, they would look back to this period with pride. He concluded by saying that his ultimate goal is to instil a winning mentality in the players and leave a lasting legacy for Maltese football.

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