An away draw at Latvia denied Faroe Islands from earning a promotion to League C and avoid a decider against Malta at the National Stadium in Ta’ Qali.
Last Saturday in Riga, the Faroes needed the three points to be declared winners of League D, Group 1 and make a leap into the third-tier of the Nations League.
Now, that spot will be at stake when the Nordic side will face Devis Mangia’s Malta tonight.
Tonight’s encounter will be the sixth meeting between the two countries in the last two years and both Malta and the Faroe Islands have always gave life to end-to-end matches in what now has become a classic rivalry on the international stage.
In the five games prior to this, the Faroes enjoy a record of three wins, one draw and one defeat. Nonetheless, their victories have always been recorded on home soil whereas at the National Stadium, the Faroes drew 1-1 in the previous UEFA Nations League campaign and suffered a 2-1 defeat in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
However, to win promotion to League C, the Faroes do not need to register their second ever win on Maltese soil – the first being in 1997.
In fact, a draw would do the trick for the Nordic side and should they lose 3-2, 4-3 and so on, the Faroes would still top the group despite finishing level on points with Malta.
This is because they would have met one of these two criterias – higher number of away goals in all group matches or a higher number of away goals scored in direct clashes.
Led by Hakan Ericson, the Faroes boast the best attack with eight goals and with just 4 goals conceded they have the best defensive record of this group.
According to Faroese sports journalist, Leivur Frederiksen, the Swede coach is still working on finding the best combinations for his team despite they are in the driving seat to top this group.
“The coach is rotating a number of players and giving the opportunity to new faces to introduce themselves in this team as he is still looking for his best formation of players,” Frederiksen told the Times of Malta.
“Nonetheless, the coach is helping this team to improve when in possession and this also reflects on the decision to deploy goalkeeper Teitur Gestsson who is able to play with his feet and helps more with the build-up from the back.”
Given this is the sixth meeting in the last two years, the Faroe Islands vs Malta feud has become a classic for both nations.
“Funnily enough, all the Faroese people know the players of the Malta national team having faced each other for so many times,” Frederiksen said.
“At the same time, there are high expectations and a lot of excitement because finally, and actually it counts for Malta as well I assume, we are playing in a final to win and not to avoid finish bottom in a qualifying group.”
The Faroe Islands will be without Arminia Bielefeld striker Joan Edmundsson as the German club did not want to release their player for this international window.
Ericson will also be missing the services of Sonni Nattestad who will be serving a one-game suspension.
Nonetheless, the team will be welcoming back captain Heodin Hansen and Brandur Olsen, the player who broke Malta’s hearts with his last-gasp free-kick in the corresponding first-round fixture.
“The team is in good spirits with people expecting at least a draw and earn promotion into League C,” Frederiksen said.
“Yet, I feel that we were lucky to actually get a point against Latvia because we had three key players absent and therefore this was a bonus for us.”