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Woods wants response from Malta’s U-21 against Hungary

Malta Under-21 National Team coach Ivan Woods (left) looks on during his team's match against Spain on Saturday. Photo: Andre Farrugia

The Malta U-21 national team will continue their commitments from Group B of the European Championship qualifiers when they host Hungary at the Tony Bezzina Stadium in Corradino on Tuesday (kick-off: 5.45pm).

Ivan Woods’ boys head into the match on the back of a disappointing debut in the continental qualifiers after suffering a heavy 6-0 defeat to Spain at the Tony Bezzina Stadium last Friday.

While it was always going to be a difficult ask for the Maltese youngsters to try and mount a serious challenge to the European Championship finalists, the Malta U-21 coach wants his players to use that match as an important learning curve ahead of another tough encounter against the Hungarians.

Hungary kicked off their qualifying campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over Kazakhstan last week and will no doubt look to maintain their 100 percent record in Group B.

Woods told the Times of Malta that although he expected his team to suffer against the Spanish players, he admitted there were a lot of things his team needed to improve on ahead of their match against Hungary.

“We said before facing Spain that it was always going to be a very tough night for our team against mighty Spain,” Woods said.

“The difference in class between the two teams is quite clear and the fact that my players have yet to play a competitive match further made it difficult for us.

“In spite of the huge difference in class, however, I still felt that we could have done many things much better. When you play against such a classy side it’s inevitable that they will make you commit mistakes but there were several instances in the match where we committed unforced errors.

“We need to be better when it comes to marking opponents, defending crosses, and trying to make good use of the ball. At this level, you need to be very sharp or you will be punished.

“At the end of the day, this is a learning process for us and we always have to look at our performances and try and become a better team.”

Woods said that for Tuesday’s match, striker Jake Engerer is out with an injury but otherwise, he has a full squad to choose from.

“Playing two matches in the space of four days when you have yet to play a competitive match is quite demanding,” Woods said.

“I am pleased with the application of my players so far as they are working very hard. Obviously, I will have to look at the condition of the players and see if I will have to make some changes as Hungary will be a tough test for us.

“Hungary are a very physical side so we need to be on the ball right from the outset.”

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