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Five-star performance key for Malta women’s national coach Manuela Tesse

A third win on the trot and a five-star performance were on Manuela Tesse’s agenda before her Maltese selection took on Andorra in their opening Nations League game during this October international window.

Malta scored five goals and produced a commanding display that helped them consolidate their leading position in their League C group.

Their comfortable win over Andorra came hours after Latvia produced a statement of intent with their own 5-0 stroll past Moldova which keeps them three points behind Malta.

Malta and Latvia will cross swords in the final group game on December 5, in a potential decider to determine who will book a place in League B during the next Nations League edition.

“It was very important to beat Andorra while scoring a lot of goals in the process,” Tesse told the Times of Malta.

Andorra, on their part, had defeated Moldova in their group opener before falling to a heavy defeat to Latvia.

Ranked bottom of the European teams in the FIFA rankings, it was expected to see them forming two low blocks to deny any access to the Maltese and it seemed to work, at least in the opening stages of the first half.

“I think we struggled a bit in the first half with Andorra defending in a low-block shape, with their 4-5-1 and 4-4-1-1 formation,” Tesse explained.

“On the other hand though, we did improve when we started to connect through passing combinations with Ylenia Carabott working hard upfront to hold the ball as well.”

The five goals against Andorra see Malta’s tally increase to eight goals, one goal shy of Latvia’s attacking record.

At the other end of the field, however, Malta boast an impressive record of three clean sheets as they are yet to concede in this competition.

Malta share such statistics with only five other countries across the whole Nations League competition – Finland in League B and four teams in League C, namely Turkey, Israel, Kosovo, and Bulgaria.

“Heading into this game, we had a minor issue with fullback Emma Xuereb but for me it is easier to replace a forward than a defender,” Tesse pointed out.

“You see Charlene Zammit coming on in the final minutes and our defensive chemistry remained intact, showing how much understanding there is in that department.

“I might have a slightly defensive mentality having been a defender myself, but I am more worried when I need to adjust my defending department rather than tweaking upfront.”

Having now faced all three opponents in this group, Tesse deems Latvia as a very strong rival and a side that is vying for League B promotion as well.

A win against Andorra on Tuesday is crucial to maintain a three-point advantage that can play a decisive role in the final game against Latvia in December.        

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