Malta face Czechia in friendly match on Friday

The Malta national team, under the guidance of coach Michele Marcolini, faces Czechia in a friendly match at the Stadion Grödig – MGG Arena in Grödig, Austria, kick-off at 17:30.

This will be one of two friendly matches as part of a training camp in Austria in view of the UEFA Nations League commitments later this year where Malta will be facing Moldova and Andorra. Earlier this year, Malta played two friendly matches, a 2-2 draw with Slovenia and a goalless draw with Belarus.

Michele Marcolini emphasised that this match is another opportunity to assess the team’s progress. He highlighted the positive outcomes from the March international window and explained that the team has thoroughly analysed these two past performances to identify mistakes and learn from them.  He also noted that the team’s performances have been commendable, reflecting their gradual but steady improvement.

Photos courtesy of domenic aquilina

“We are moving forward one step at a time,” said Marcolini, expressing satisfaction with regards to the players’ commitment and attitude over the past three weeks.

The coach acknowledged the challenges posed by this international window, which comes after a gruelling season. Many teams have been competing at full throttle across various competitions, making this period particularly demanding. Despite these challenges, Marcolini is focused on achieving a positive result against Czechia, which he believes will boost the team’s confidence as they gear up for the Nations League.

Echoing the coach’s ideas, Steven Pisani reiterated the importance of this match as part of their preparation for the upcoming Nations League campaign in September. Pisani praised the team’s work ethic during the intensive three-week training period, highlighting their dedication and focus. In fact, the players have been working together since mid-May.

Marcolini will be unable to field his best formation due to the absence of Luke Montebello, Carlo Zammit Lonardelli and Yannick Yankam who are nursing injuries, apart from Jodi Jones who asked to be rested after being involved in no less than forty four matches with Notts County last season. On the other hand, Ferdinando Apap was allowed to leave the squad after his decision to quit international football and Hibernians to join Victoria Hotspurs who embark on a new adventure in the leagues organised by the Malta FA.

The Malta coach is well aware of the strength of Friday’s opponents who are in the final stages of preparations ahead of the EURO 2024 where they will be facing Portugal, Georgia and Turkey after placing joint-first in Group E of the European Qualifiers on level points with Albania and registered back-to-back wins over Norway and Armenia earlier this year in two friendly matches.

However, Marcolini remains confident in his players and hopes to deliver another strong performance.

Malta and Czechia met ten times – two friendly matches, six World Cup qualifiers and two European Championship qualifiers.

Czechia won 6-1 at home in September 1994 in the EURO 96 qualifiers but Malta earned a point in a goalless draw at Ta’ Qali in the return match in October 1994. In September 1996, Czechia registered another comfortable 6-0 win in the World Cup qualifiers and went on to win 1-0 at Ta’ Qali in September 1997. In October 2000, Malta earned a point in a goalless draw in the World Cup qualifiers with Czechia winning 3-2 in September 2001 at home.

In June 2009, Czechia defeated Malta 1-0 in a friendly match. Three years later, in October 2012, Czechia won 3-1 in the World Cup qualifiers and in October 2013, they won 4-1 at Ta’ Qali.

Malta and Czechia met once again in May 2016 in Austria, winning 6-0.

Czechia vs Malta will be controlled by Austrian officials, namely referee Stefan Ebner, assistant referees Maximilian Kolbitsch and Manuel Undesser and fourth official Jäger Christopher.

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