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Tesse praises Malta’s fighting character after comeback win

Malta beat Luxembourg in Manuela Tesse’s debut as Malta women’s coach. Photo: Darrin zammit Lupi

Malta women’s national team coach Manuela Tesse heaped praise on her team’s efforts after cancelling a one-goal deficit to beat Luxembourg 2-1 in her debut game.

Haley Bugeja, who is in her second year at Orlando Pride, scored a goal in each half to hand Malta a winning start to their 2023 appointments.

Luxembourg will be Malta’s opponents again when they face each other this morning, at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off: 11am).

Ranked 118th, Luxembourg drew first blood early in the game from the penalty spot, profiting from Malta’s lack of composure in the early stages of the game.

“It was a nerve-wracking win because I believe we were afraid to play, especially in the first half following Jade Flask’s big chance in the opening minutes,” Tesse told the Times of Malta.

“Luxembourg had only one opportunity while we were struggling to impose our game, although we have to consider that we were deploying a new-look midfield.

“Nonetheless, I am pleased with the resilience shown by the team as having the strength to come from behind means that these players are committed to the cause.

“This victory won’t make us feel stronger, but it is the right boost to stay motivated and work hard.”

On Friday, Tesse introduced the 4-3-3 system with Nicole Sciberras as a pivot, together with inside midfielders Shona Zammit and Brenda Borg on each flank.

The Italian tactician is keen to see her side become even more possession-oriented and is confident that with more games, the players will continue to grow into this system.

“We had little time to prepare for these games, and obviously when you play with this shape, the midfield department is the fulcrum,” the former Italy international explained.

“I believe they were a bit emotional as well, playing in front of the home crowd after a long period.

We used the majority of the players and now we have another match where will give plenty of time to the other members as well.”

Nations League test

Luxembourg will be one of the potential opponents when Malta launch its Nations League campaign in September.
Although Malta are ranked 30 places above them, Luxembourg staged a solid display that reflects the growth of
the women’s game across all of Europe.

“Luxembourg has invested a lot, they introduced more players and they were missing some of their most important ones for this game,” Tesse explained.

“It is important to be ready physically and mentally against these types of opponents when the Nations League commences.

“From our own point of view, we have to learn more about game management – when to press, when to keep possession but I believe we will improve these aspects as time goes by.”

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