Malta national team coach Devis Mangia is eyeing his first three points in this Nations League campaign when his Maltese side take on Andorra in La Vella, tonight (kick-off: 20.45).
Mangia guided Malta towards its first victory under his charge when they saw off Gibraltar 2-0 in an international friendly, last Wednesday.
Should the Maltese manage to beat Andorra, this would be the maiden win for Malta over their opponents as they are on an even keel at the moment of two draws in previous meetings between the two countries in the past – identical 1-1 stalemates in 2000 and 2002.
The Italian tactician hopes that the result can serve as a motivation for his side to dispatch Andorra and chalk up their first win in this competition.
“I am expecting a hard game for us, like usual, because Andorra can provide a tough challenge but at the same time we will do what it takes to get all three points,” Mangia told a news conference.
The former Italy U-21 coach was pleased with the victory over Gibraltar, with the Maltese team applying a proactive approach that enabled them to dominate proceedings for majority of the game.
However, he did not share the same feelings about his team’s performance as he demands consistently a much better technical display from his players game in game out, in particular against opponents where he feel that his players can showcase their potential.
“Playing for a draw is not on my books and therefore I won’t be implementing a conservative system against Andorra,” Mangia said.
“I want to win, hence I have a philosophy and we continue to build on what he have already done so far with that idea of football.”
Against Andorra, the Maltese team will be once again playing on an artificial pitch after they faced the Faroe Islands on a similar surface. Nonetheless, Mangia rebuffed any idea of some kind of an alibi should they fail to get a result.
“I don’t like to play on an artificial ground, let’s face it,” Mangia pointed out.
“But for me, it won’t be an excuse, not even playing without fans or so because all factors are equal to each team.”
Defender Steve Borg echoed his coach’s thoughts as he said that he and his team-mates are used to play on an artificial surface given that a lot of Premier League matches are played at the Centenary Stadium.
Pressure of winning
Andorra have picked one point after two games in this Nations League competition, after their goalless draw in their opener away at Latvia. They played just one game at home so far, against the Faroe Islands against whom they fell to a 1-0 defeat.
Scoring goals is not really one of their main highlights but with their toughness and physicality, Andorra will not be any pushovers for Malta.
This is why Mangia is demanding his players to cut the technical mistakes made against Gibraltar in order to have control of the game against tonight’s opponents.
“I was happy with the feedback I received from my players, but I was not really happy with some mistakes we did and therefore we have to make sure that we improve on such situations,” the former Palermo coach said.
Meanwhile, Gżira United defender Borg underlined how there is always some kind of pressure on the Malta national team and the Andorra game will not be an exception from this point of view.
“Under coach Mangia, we have been improving in our performances and results and that will obviously add more responsibility to deliver against Andorra,” the former Valletta defender said.
“Unfortunately, we lost in a dramatic way against the Faroe Islands but then we showed progress against Latvia where we managed to gain a point as well.
“We have a very interesting group with a mix of youth and experienced players and I think we are in the process of learning together in order to improve as much as possible.”
08.10.2000 Malta vs Andorra 1-1
27.03.2002 Malta vs Andorra 1-1