The Malta Under-21 national team hosts Kazakhstan in another match from the UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifying round group B at the Tony Bezzina Stadium on Thursday, kick-off at 18:00.
The team lost the first four matches but performed quite well in the last outing against Scotland in Motherwell.
Speaking on the eve of the game, Under-21 coach Ivan Woods said “This is our toughest match so far in this qualifying group as we know that against Kazakhstan expectations could be high. I’m pleased with the work ethic, attitude, and desire of my players in previous matches, but we must stay fully concentrated in the 90 minutes ahead.”
“We have all noted the significant improvement this team has recorded from the opening encounter and the defeat to Spain in September to the encouraging performance last month away to Scotland and albeit the unlucky end result”.
“Kazakhstan on Thursday will be yet another hard nut to crack, we have followed their run so far in this group, they have lost narrowly to Belgium, also against Spain where they lost 4-0, they still created chances and produced competitive football.”
“We are facing a side coming from a country of 20 million population, therefore feet on the ground, albeit we believe in our potential, confidence, and preparation of our players leading up to this game.
In reference to the final 23-man squad announcement, coach Ivan Woods hailed the commitment by his players, including some new faces in the group who will surely maximize this opportunity, also selected amongst other attributes, for amassing significant playing time with their respective clubs.
“It’s all credit to my players that physically we are in a better shape, being that they have navigated more playing time in their feet, and performing at the best of their abilities also at club level.”
“We will miss a few players who were forced to withdraw due to injury, they will absolutely bounce back for next time, we must now focus on this group of players who I’m totally sure will help the squad in our objectives and targets for the 90 minutes ahead against Kazakhstan,” Ivan Woods concluded.