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Tedesco calls for perfect game against Gżira United on landmark appearance

Giovanni Tedesco is hopeful Birkirkara can play a perfect game as the Italian coach is set to reach a landmark appearance in his coaching experience when he makes his 200th appearance in charge of a Maltese club when he leads his team for a difficult clash against Gżira United this afternoon at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off: 2pm).

The Italian coach has started his coaching career in Malta eight years ago when he took charge of Floriana FC in 2014.

Since then the former Perugia and Palermo coach has went on to manage several clubs here, namely Ħamrun Spartans, Birkirkara, Gżira United, Santa Lucia, Sirens and Valletta before returning for a second spell at the Stripes this summer.

This season, Tedesco has enjoyed an encouraging start at Birkirkara as after ten matches the team are well in the hunt for a place in Europe as they are sharing third spot with Hibernians.

“I am very happy and proud for this important achievement,” Tedesco told the Times of Malta.

“I have to thank all the clubs that have shown faith in my abilities throughout these years and hopefully there will be more to come for me here in Malta.”

Turning his sights on today’s challenge against Gżira United, Tedesco is bracing himself for a very difficult challenge.

“It’s going to be a very difficult match,” Tedesco said.

“Gżira United are a very physical side and who, this season, have proved that they have developed into a very strong side and who boast the best striking partnership in Maxuell Maia and Jefferson.

“No doubt, we need to play a perfect game and don’t commit any errors if we are to win the match.”

The clash against Gżira United arrives at a very delicate time for the Stripes who are on a poor run of results as they have failed to win any of the last five matches. Tedesco said that now is the time for his players to show their real character and warned that they need to be more ruthless if they are to turn the tide.

“During the past few weeks, the team has not been at its best, that is clear,” Tedesco said.

“We have failed to be consistent throughout the whole 90 minutes and one major flaw has been that we are not ruthless in front of goal.

“If you look at some of our recent matches, against Mosta we should have been three goals up after half an hour but we committed to defensive mistakes and lost the match. Last week against Hibernians we played an excellent first half and should have put the game beyond our opponents.

“But in the second half, Hibs, showed their champions’ quality, and managed to get back into the match.

“So, that is why when facing teams like Gżira United we need to be more ruthless if we are to emerge victorious.”

Tedesco has been managing in Malta for the past eight years and has seen the level of domestic football growing.

However, he admitted that this season, the level of football being witnessed has deteriorated and pointed at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the financial situation of the clubs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a very negative effect on the club’s administration as they

suffered a lot from a financial point of view,” Tedesco said.

“That is mirrored by the quality of overseas players engaged by the clubs which in my opinion is not of the same quality as in the past. But this is not a problem that is being felt only in Malta.

“Even in Italy, the level of football in all divisions of Italian football has deteriorated so I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone here in Malta.”

Tedesco said that unfortunately, the perception abroad is that Maltese football is of a very low quality but that is far away from the truth and the excellent performances produced by Ħamrun Spartans, Hibernians, and Gżira United in UEFA club competitions this summer is testament of the huge potential Maltese football possesses.

“One of my biggest arguments with people outside football is to try and convince them that Maltese football is growing year after year,” Tedesco said.

“The huge improvements registered by Maltese clubs in UEFA competitions and those attained by the national team in recent qualifiers are there for all to see but to change that negative perception there needs to be a consistency in how Maltese clubs and the national teams perform year after year.

“And to achieve that, Maltese football must strengthen its structures, starting from little things such as providing good infrastructure for clubs to train every week, to improve the communication between all stakeholders.”

Tedesco said that he cannot understand why, for instance there is no communication between the referee department and club officials and players to try and build a good working relationship.

“In Italy, every year, at the start of every season every club would be represented by an official, the coach and the team captain to a meeting with the referees associations where new regulations and other important issues are discussed,” Tedesco said.

“These meetings were very helpful for us when I was a player, as we could understand better the character of referees we encounter every week and learn how to behave on the pitch.

“The end result of this meeting is that you are slowly building a good relationship with the officials and the respect towards each other is slowly strengthened. Such things will help to improve football in Malta.”

As we reach the end of this interview, it is inevitable to speak about the situation of the national team, following the news that head coach Devis Mangia resigned from his post after he was investigated by the MFA for improper conduct.

The Malta FA are currently looking to install a new head coach that would also be responsible to continue the technical project initiated by the governing body.

The Italian coach said that the MFA had to install someone who has good knowledge of the realities of Maltese football and said that he was up for the challenge.

“The Malta FA must look for someone who has good knowledge of Maltese football,” Tedesco said.

“If you install someone who has no experience of Maltese football, he would need a lot of time to adjust, and I don’t think that it would be a wise decision. Devis Mangia has done a great job during his time here, and his technical project has given a huge lift to the national team.

“Now the MFA must look for someone to continue this work and Giovanni Tedesco would be the perfect fit,” he added with a smile.

“But there is no doubt in my mind, that the MFA should go for someone who has good idea of Maltese football and has the motivation to take the football movement here forward.”  

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