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Malta ready to fire in key Latvia clash says Malta women’s team captain Lipman

Malta women's national team coach Manuela Tesse speaks to her players during the team's final training session ahead of the Latvia clash. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Team needs just one point to seal historic promotion.

Malta women’s captain Emma Lipman has urged her team-mates to deliver their best possible performance as the national team put their UEFA Women’s Nations League promotion on the line in Tuesday’s decisive showdown against Latvia at the Centenary Stadium (kick-off: 4pm).

Leaders Malta have a three-point lead over Latvia with Manuela Tesse’s side having the chance to earn a League B promotion with a draw.

However, Latvia’s better goal difference means that if the Baltic side beat Malta, they will be the ones who will claim top spot and move into League B.

Not everything will be lost though for whoever ends up runner-up in this group, as they will be still contending for a promotion spot via the playoffs against the best third-ranked teams in League B.

After a perfect start to the campaign with four straight wins, Malta were just one win away from completing their quest but they struggled to break down a compact Moldova defence when they failed to score a goal in a competitive match for the first time since Tesse took over in January this year.

For Lipman, the draw against Moldova does not ring any alarm bells as she still believes they have what it takes to make it to the next level.

“We have to give credit to Moldova for a solid defensive performance while at the same time, we might have been a bit too excited for this game and failed to impose ourselves,” Lipman told the Times of Malta.

Having played all their away games, Malta secured two wins and a draw with four goals and none conceded.

However, there was always a stark contrast between Malta’s home and away displays, with Tesse herself pointing out in previous comments that her side could have done better in both wins against Latvia and Andorra.

“The away games offer different types of difficulties such as travelling and cold weather but these are just excuses because we have to adapt to every circumstance if we want to grow as a team,” Lipman said.

Malta forward Haley Bugeja (centre) attempts to control the ball during a national team training session. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Latvia, on their part, have been on a rampant streak since their opening defeat to Malta. In the following four games, Latvia scored 16 goals – one of the most teams to score in this competition – with midfielder Karolina Miksone grabbing five goals across the competition.

In their last outing, Olga Sehcova propelled Latvia to a 4-0 win over Andorra as she grabbed a hat-trick in the process with the fourth goal scored by 2005-born Anastasija Poluhovica, who plies her trade at SFK Riga and is one of the best upcoming prospects in Latvian women’s football.

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