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Malta with ‘possibility to be more dangerous’ against Gibraltar says Marcolini

Malta players in training ahead of their friendly against Gibraltar on Wednesday. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Camenzuli expecting positive performance

Ahead of next week’s Euro 2024 qualifier against North Macedonia at the National Stadium, Malta’s National Team are set to play a friendly match against Gibraltar on Wednesday (kick-off: 8PM).

While the match against North Macedonia provides a stiff challenge to avenge the 2-1 defeat in their away tie back in March, a match which also Marcolini’s debut as Malta coach, the friendly against Gibraltar should give the Italian a better indication of what will be needed on September 12.

Speaking to a pre-match press conference, Marcolini said that the match against Gibraltar should let his team demonstrate better their abilities considering the fact that Gibraltar are much less ranked than Malta’s usual opponents.

“Tomorrow’s game will be the first one which is particularly different than the ones we’ve played so far – a qualifying group of teams who are of the highest level – ranked at the top of the international standings,” Marcolini told the press conference.

“With all due respect to Gibraltar, I believe tomorrow will be a different game where we can be able to be more dangerous. Then as always in football, it depends on us rather than our opponent.

“We’ll be looking at things that concern us and it is a match in which we will be looking to impose our game and our will to win.

“Before the previous European qualifiers, we also won an important match against Luxembourg so we’re hoping to do the same against Gibraltar.”

Wednesday’s match will see the return of goalkeeper Henry Bonello in his first outing since suffering an injury on National team duty in June when Malta played Ukraine. Unlike his Hamrun Spartans teammates in the Malta squad who have played three two-legged ties this summer in UEFA qualifiers, Bonello has been out recovering ever since.

Meanwhile, overseas-based players like Teddy Teuma, Zach Muscat, and Cain Attard have been in top form since the start of their season, Teuma having already become a fan favourite at his new club Reims in the French Ligue 1.

Positive football

Asked about players like Bonello and a number of others who were not involved in UEFA club competitions this summer, Marcolini believes it is disappointing, however, he is adamant that their hard work in training will reap rewards.

“It is a big disappointment honestly as apart from the players who have played in Europe and those who play abroad, the others have not had the possibility of playing official games,” Marcolini admitted.

“It’s true, they’ve played friendlies, but the rhythm and intensity are not like that of an official game.

“However, we shouldn’t look at the past; we have to think only about doing our best now that we are here. The guys have shown me that they are ready. They’ve worked hard throughout these past few days and I’m optimistic for tomorrow.”

Sitting beside Marcolini, Malta wingback Ryan Camenzuli said the Gibraltar match would be a chance for them to make changes.

“We’re expecting to play more positive football and control the game more than our previous matches,” Camenzuli said.

“It is also a chance for the coach and his staff to try new things so that we can be better prepared for the match against North Macedonia.”

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