Gibraltar coach Julius Cesar Ribas is bracing himself for a very difficult challenge as he leads his team against Malta in an international friendly at the National Stadium on Wednesday.
For both countries, Wednesday’s friendly is a perfect preparation for this month’s UEFA Nations League commitments, with Malta having trips to Andorra and Latvia, while Gibraltar are away to Liechtenstein.
Gibraltar have fond memories of Malta as the European minnows beat Malta 1-0 in their first ever international way back in 2014.
But for Gibraltar coach Ribas, that match will have little importance ahead of Wednesday’s friendly and said that Malta have come a long way since then and expects a tough challenge.
“Six years passed since that match and many things have changed,” Ribas told a news conference.
“I don’t think that match will have any effect on tomorrow’s match as since then both teams have evolved. From that match, we only have just a few players who were part of that team.
“Wednesday’s friendly will be a totally different game as Malta have come a long way since then and even Gibraltar has also developed.
“I think both teams will be keen to win the match as they continue their development process and this is a game that means more for each side than being just a friendly.”
Ribas said that he was impressed by the development of the Malta national team.
“I have watched Malta in their last two matches against the Faroe Islands and Latvia and I must admit that I was really impressed,” the Uruguayan coach said.
“Malta are a very compact team who holds his own very well on the pitch. Under Devis Mangia, the team has come a long way and they can change systems, playing with either five defenders or a four-man back-line while they can attack with two or three forwards.
“They are playing some good football and it will be a great test for us.”
Gibraltar will be without two key players in skipper Roy Chipollina and Ethan Britto.
“They are two very important players for us, and they will surely be missed,” Ribas said.
“Unfortunately we have a small selection of players to choose from but I’m still confident that we have a strong enough squad to get a result against Malta.”