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Gibraltar game was a step forward – Malta coach Mangia

Nwoko drops out of final squad due to injury

After earning his first win as Malta coach in the 2-0 win over Gibraltar, Devis Mangia deemed this international friendly as a step forward for his team.

The Malta national team outworked Gibraltar for majority of the game as goals from Kyrian Nwoko and Triston Caruana made the pressure count for Mangia’s side.

The proactive approach by the Maltese enabled them to dictate proceedings and although there were a few technical mistakes, Gibraltar never put Malta under any trouble.

“In the first 25 minutes, we had the game under control as we dominated proceedings,” Mangia told a news conference.

“As the game wore on, we did lost some self-belief and started to commit some technical mistakes, which in my opinion we made more against Gibraltar than against Faroe Islands and Latvia.

Nonetheless, I feel that this group of 28 players did well and for them, the Gibraltar game was not a test but another stage to showcase themselves.”

Mangia remarked how Gibraltar adapted their system for Malta, starting with a 5-4-1 shape in the opening half before switching to a 4-4-2 system after the break.

“It was the first time that an opponent changed his system to adapt himself against us,” Mangia explained.

“At first, it gave us some problems and that is why maybe we lost a bit of our shape, but for the rest we managed to overcome their challenges as well.

Nonetheless, all in all we had a good performance where had most of the possession – 60% to 40% – and during the game Gibraltar only had one real opportunity, caused by a mistake from our end.”

Squad for Andorra, Latvia

Asked about the challenged that Andorra will offer to Malta, Mangia pointed out that Andorra play tougher than Gibraltar so obviously the Maltese will have to be at their best to chalk up points from this tie.

“It is clear that first we have to evaluate some players’ issue and let them recover,” the Malta coach said.

“We have a problem with Kyrian Nwoko’s injury but we have a solution in Luke Montebello – the only concern is that he did not play with his club but we have two games in four days and therefore it is important that we manage the squad rotation.”

Devis Mangia, the Head Coach of the National Teams, has finalised his squad selection for the UEFA Nations League Group D1 matches away to Andorra and Latvia.

Having called an expanded squad of 28 players for yesterday’s friendly match against Gibraltar, wich saw Malta emerge 2-0 winners, Mangia has reduced his squad to 25 players ahead of the squad’s departure to Andorra this afternoon.

Valletta striker Kyrian Nwoko, scorer of Malta’s opening goal in the Gibraltar win, has had to pull out of the squad because of the injury he suffered in the first half of yesterday’s friendly at the National Stadium.

The other two players who have not been included in the travelling squad are Ferdinando Apap, of Hibernians, and Joseph Muscatt, of German club SC Paderborn.

Matthew Guillaumier will miss Saturday’s game against Andorra as he serves a one-match ban but the Ħamrun Spartans midfielder will be available for the Latvia match on Tuesday.

Malta have one point after their opening two UEFA Nations League qualifiers, the same as Andorra.

MALTA SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS
Henry Bonello (Valletta); Matthew Calleja Cremona (Hibernians); Jake Galea (Sliema Wanderers).

DEFENDERS
Andrei Agius (Hibernians); Samir Arab (Balzan); Steve Borg (Gżira United); Triston Caruana (Valletta); Zach Muscat (Casa Pia AC – Portugal); Enrico Pepe (Birkirkara); Kurt Shaw (Sliema Wanderers).

MIDFIELDERS
Cain Attard (Birkirkara); Myles Beerman (Sliema Wanderers); Ryan Camenzuli (Floriana); Matthew Guillaumier (Ħamrun Spartans); Bjorn Kristensen (Hibernians); Joseph Mbong (Ħamrun Spartans); Rowen Muscat (Valletta); Steven Pisani (Balzan); Teddy Teuma (Royale Union Saint-Gilloise – Belgium).

FORWARDS
Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Shaun Dimech (Valletta); Luke Gambin (Colchester United – England); Jake Grech (Hibernians); Paul Mbong (Birkirkara); Luke Montebello (Birkirkara).

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