The Malta U-21 national team will be involved in their first foreign assignment in the European Championship qualifiers when they face Scotland at Fir Park on Tuesday (kick-off: 6.30pm).
The Maltese youngsters come into the match on the back of a very encouraging showing against Belgium which saw the team hold their own against their more-quoted opponents and only two concede two late goals to suffer a 2-0 defeat.
Coach Ivan Woods was encouraged by the display of the players who showed remarkable progress from last month’s qualifiers.
“On Friday my players performed superbly, they were disciplined, and produced a great collective effort with a positive attitude. All players looked unfazed by the magnitude of the task of having to face another powerful side like Belgium,” Woods said.
Woods was pleased with the fitness level of his players, saying the physical improvement was noted in the 90 minutes against Belgium, bearing in mind the players had some match practice prior to this fixture, something that was missing in previous matches.
“I’m pleased with the approach and level of performance by all the players, there are details and situations we have to improve, those details are ultimately significant in our aim of getting on the score sheet and recording points on the board,” Woods said.
“The players were devastated after the match, they were firmly knowledgeable that the Belgium match could have easily resulted in a different outcome. But now that is in the past and it’s important to try and build on all the positives of that match and move on.
“The collective effort by all the players on Friday was impeccable, we must produce a similar style of play, with intensity, and positive transitions thus ensuring we remain solid defensively against Scotland.”
Scotland come into the match on a high as they have just beaten Hungary 3-1 last week. They are blessed with some talented players such as winger Ben Doak who is only seventeen and has already made his debut for Liverpool.
“We know that we have a hard task on our hands, Scottish football is on a high, their senior team has just qualified for the European Championship, and these youngsters will surely be all guns blazing to emulate their senior counterparts,” Woods said.
“My players, on the other hand, must show personality, they should not be terrified by their opponents. I want my players to impose our game plan and philosophy. all this might lead to errors, but we will surely apply our style of play come Tuesday.”
Woods highlighted the importance of all of the 20 players for the Scotland game.
“Our energy level is different from the match on Friday against Belgium, therefore we will make use of the depth of our squad, all members of this 20-man squad have been selected because they all have an essential role in their duties for this Malta Under21 Team,” he concluded.
Goalkeepers: D. Ciappara (Mosta), H. Sacco (Eastern New Mexico University).
Defenders: M. Ellul (Żabbar St Patrick), Z. Leonardi (Pieta’ Hotspurs), M. Ellul (Santa Lucia), O. Spiteri (Floriana), J. Vassallo (Mosta), I. Cutajar (Pieta’ H.).
Midfielders: K. Bondin (Żebbuġ Rangers), D. Letherby (Eastern New Mexico University), A. Borg (Gżira United), G. Sciberras (Mosta), A. Garzia (Floriana), K. Mohnani (Melita), N. Micallef (Naxxar Lions).
Forwards: J. Carbone (Santa Lucia), A. Bridgman (Eastbourne Borough), M. Veselji (Floriana), A. Zammit (Messina), J. Engerer (Sliema Wanderers).
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