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Malta women’s coach Tesse pleased with national team’s fighting spirit

Malta beat the Faroe Islands in their first of two back-to-back international friendlies. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Expecting tough Belarus test

Malta’s victory over the Faroe Islands was the perfect way to launch the 2024 calendar which will see the women’s national make its historic League B appearance in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2025 qualifications.
After last year’s success in which Malta topped their League C group in the UEFA Nations League with a dominant display, the expectations for this selection have increased.

Although the Nordic side is ranked several places below Malta, coach Manuela Tesse still deemed this match as highly important to the development of this team, especially because the Faroe Islands brought a physical challenge to which the Maltese side replied with their much-improved technical level.

The Italian tactician was missing three key players – defenders Emma Lipman and Emma Xuereb, and midfielder Nicole Sciberras – for this match.

One of the players replacing these absentees was Valentina Rapa, Birkirkara’s upcoming player who has been playing a key role for the Stripes and was making her Malta debut against the Faroe Islands.

“We were missing three key players who are crucial to our playing style, having been a regular fixture for me this past year,” Tesse told the Times of Malta.

“At the same time though, the players that replaced them contributed positively and that helps to give more international exposure to more players.

“Our average age continues to increase and I urged the young players to start taking responsibility because they are the ones who have to carry this team in the near future.”

Despite controlling proceedings for the whole game, Tesse still pointed out some mistakes that they need to improve on if they want to step up their level.

“I think we had some poor passing in the final third while we were not always comfortable in our first touches which hindered us from threatening even more,” Tesse said.

The former Italy player explained that her team might have struggled at times due to the Tony Bezzina Stadium’s hybrid surface given that most of the players are used to playing at the Centenary Stadium which is completely synthetic.

However, Tesse said that it is important that the players learn to play on different pitches because otherwise, they won’t be comfortable playing in the away games.

Belarus meeting

Tesse’s side will wrap up its VisitMalta Women’s Trophy appointments with their second and final match against Belarus on Sunday, at the Tony Bezzina (kick-off: 6pm).

The East European selection is ranked 57th, above Malta, and although they were relegated to League C in the Nations League, this will be an important medium to gauge her team’s growth according to Tesse.

Belarus opened their tournament with a comfortable 3-0 win over Albania with veteran forward Hanna Pilipenka, who plays for Dinamo Minsk, grabbing a brace.

“While analysing them, I was not impressed with their playing style but they are quite aggressive and fast, and therefore we have to be wary of the threat they will pose to us.”

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