Michael Mifsud’s career with the national team will end when he will captain Malta for the final time against Liechtenstein today. Seven of his 41 goals for Malta were scored against the Principality. Mifsud came across Liechtenstein’s forward MARIO FRICK who like the Maltese captain has represented the soul of his national team during his playing days. Gianluca Lia spoke to the former Liechtenstein and Serie A forward…
Malta’s international friendly against Liechtenstein will be the fourth meeting between these two sides in the last 12 years. The Maltese have an unbeaten record with three successive wins and a draw in Liechtenstein way back in 1981.
Undoubtedly, one of Malta’s best ever games at international stage dates back to March 26, 2008, when Dusan Fitzel’s side hit seven past Liechtenstein. On that night, Michael Mifsud scored none less than five goals, with a hat-trick inside the first 21 minutes of the game.
Across the other end, Liechtenstein were captained by another prolific striker in Mario Frick who is one of the best players to ever represent the Principality.
Frick represented his nation at the highest level, having spent a long time venturing across Italy including in the Serie A where he collected over a century of appearances between Verona and Siena.
The Liechtenstein player captained his team in both games where Mifsud scored, five in the 7-1 win and twice in the 2-1 comeback victory in 2012.
Despite facing numerous players in his 125 caps for Liechtenstein, Frick still has vivid memories of the Malta captain.
“Yes, I do remember Michael Mifsud,” Frick told the Times of Malta.
“In one game against us, I remember he scored five goals.
“Michael Mifsud was a very good striker, with a lot of pace and a great goal instinct.”
Collecting his first cap back in 1993, seven years before Mifsud’s maiden appearance for Malta, Frick went on to make 125 appearances.
With 41 goals in 142 international games, Mifsud’s record remains one of the most impressive across the footballing world.
Considering Liechtenstein’s absence from the major competitions and the fact that they most play qualifiers against higher-ranked sides just like Malta, Frick’s 16 international goals is also an important statistic that reflects his talent.
“It is very difficult to score when you are representing a small country,” Frick pointed out.
“This is mostly because you would have a lot of defensive contribution to do throughout the game and therefore it would be more difficult to have chances at the other end of the field.
“So, the 41 goals are just crazy…a very excellent statistic.”
Frick, now 44 and destined for a coaching career, still gets to see his name on the back of the Liechtenstein shirt thanks to his sons, Yannick and Noah, who unfortunately, though, had to skip today’s game due to quarantine measures that has depleted the team ahead of the Malta friendly.
“Unfortunately, my sons cannot be in action today because of the coronavirus pandemic – what a pity,” Frick said.
Frick and Mifsud had already crossed path before becoming greats for their respective nations.
In fact, when Frick had already started to make strides in Switzerland’s top-flight he was in Zurich’s team that had faced Sliema Wanderers in the UEFA Cup in 1999.
While Frick contributed to both legs, Mifsud was a second-half substitute in the return leg played in Switzerland.
Twenty-one years on, Frick faced another Maltese side in the now-called UEFA Europa League as in the role of Vaduz coach he led the Swiss-league side against Hibernians with the Paolites securing the qualification with a 2-0 win.
“Hibernians deserved that victory, as they defended very well, and they were the better team that evening,” Frick admitted.
Asked about the progress of the small countries at international level, also thanks to the introduction of the Nations League competition, Frick sees room for improvement for such nations.
“There are many small nations that are improving such as Iceland, Luxembourg and Faroe Islands,” Frick explained.
“Liechtenstein is going through a transitional period, with many veteran players retiring from the international scene so now it is time for the young players to showcase themselves.”