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Marcolini urges national team players to show their character against Greece in friendly

Malta coach Michele Marcolini expects a strong reaction from his players against Greece. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Set to make four or five changes as Pepe, Steve Borg ruled out

Michele Marcolini has urged his players to show their real character following last week’s humbling against the Czech Republic, as the national team plays their final match of the 2023-24 season when they take on Greece in a friendly in Austria on Tuesday evening (kick-off: 6pm).

The national team is heading into today’s match under a bit of pressure after last week’s disastrous performance that saw the team suffer a 7-1 defeat to the Czech Republic.

Marcolini has made it clear that he expects a strong response from his players and is hoping that they can transform their anger into a proper performance against the 2004 European champions.

“We need to now turn the disappointment from last week’s performance against Greece into a proper display and face Greece with the right level of concentration,” the Italian coach told the Times of Malta.

“It’s important that we learn from the mistakes we committed against the Czech Republic and focus on tomorrow’s game.

“In our last outing, we took the wrong decisions defensively and the Czech Republic punished us severely.

“The team was well prepared for the match against the Czech Republic but we failed to show that on the pitch. No doubt we need to execute our game plan much better against Greece.”

The Malta national teams’ head coach admitted that his players were feeling the physical toll of a long season and is planning to ring the changes against Greece.

“I am planning to make a number of changes to our starting formation,” Marcolini said.

“I want to give an opportunity to those players that I think deserve to play given the hard work they have put in during training.

“Enrico Pepe is not ready to play while Steve Borg is feeling a bit of pain and I have no plans to risk him.

“I might make four of five changes so I can give an opportunity to a few of fringe players.

“It will be an opportunity for them to show that they can force their way into the team, particularly in the Nations League.”

Turning his sights on Tuesday’s opponents Greece, Marcolini said that they will pose a completely different challenge posed last week by the Czech Republic.

“Greece are a very strong team,” Marcolini said.

“They have lost the chance to play in the Euros after losing on penalties against Georgia and put in an amazing performance against Germany, losing in the last minute.

“They will pose a completely different challenge to the Czech Republic. The Czechs are much more physical while Greece have some highly-technical players and are very aggressive and compact in defence.

Frustration

“But what is important is that we focus on our game and I want my players to continue to show more ambition when pushing forward.

“We need to take all the anger and frustration from the match against the Czech Republic and take it with us against Greece to give the right answer to our fans on the pitch.”

Zach Muscat, who is likely to be included in the starting formation, said that all the players should take full responsibility of the debacle against Czechia.

“We have to contemplate and analyse the upset of the last game and take responsibility,” Muscat said.

“We need to channel our anger and frustration positively, using it as motivation for the upcoming match against Greece.

“I am sure that everyone is ready to prove that we are a much better team than we showed against the Czech Republic.”

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