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Malta women ready to deliver in UEFA Nations League opening match in Latvia

Malta women players go through their paces in Latvia.

Malta women’s national teams’ coach Manuela Tesse has backed her team to open their UEFA Nations League campaign in style when they face Latvia at the Jūrmalas Pilsētas Stadium Sloka (kick-off: 15:30).

The women’s national team will be making their first appearance in the competition and will be bidding to top the group and secure promotion to Group B.

Tesse has been working with the players for the past few days and sounded positive that her squad is ready for the challenge against the former Soviet Republic.

“It is not easy to prepare for two competitive matches in a span of four days, I however believe in the players and the preparation done with their respective clubs. Ultimately everything will be decided on the pitch, but from what I have seen in the past four training sessions, I think that we are ready to face Latvia,” said Malta coach Tesse.

Tesse has named a squad of 22 players, that includes a blend of youth and experience. The Italian coach has great belief in her players and sees a great future for the young players that form part of the squad.

Since taking charge of the team, Tesse boasts a great record as national team coach as in four friendlies played, the team secured two wins against Luxembourg, and beat Estonia with the only defeat coming against highly-quoted Haiti, who played in this year’s World Cup.

Turning her sights on Latvia, Tesse said that the Latvians, who are ranked 119th in the world, will pose a lot of danger, particularly in attack where they boast three strong and fast forwards.

The last time Malta and Latvia faced each other was in 2017 when they met in the Aphrodite Cup, with the Maltese coming out on top 1-0.

Tesse said that since this match, the two teams have changed and developed a lot as both countries invested heavily in the women’s movement.

“I have faith that whatever the result, the players will be giving their 100 percent on the field of play on Friday to bring home the first three points from this encounter,” the Italian coach said.

The new Nations League format was approved last year, with the new system coming as part of the UEFA women’s football strategy for 2019-2024.

The competition will act as the first phase of a two-part women’s national team competition cycle, with the other phase being the European qualifiers for the UEFA Women’s Championship or FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The new system will create more competitive matches with teams of similar strength facing each other.

This will avoid results such as that suffered by the same Latvia against England during a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification match where the Lionesses beat Latvia 20-0.

According to Tesse, this is the right formula to help the small footballing nations grow.

“Before it was not possible for small teams to compete against and offer a good opposition to the top ten teams. Each time the result was humiliating and discouraging for the weaker teams,” Tesse said.

“Now the possibility to compete against nations with the same strengths and abilities is real. This makes the competition even more interesting and important because the team can show on the pitch all its worth.”

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