Devis Mangia said the national team have their eyes firmly set on defeating the Faroe Islands and sealing promotion to League C in the UEFA Nations League when the two countries meet in their final outing at the National Stadium tonight (kick-off: 20.45).
Saturday’s 3-1 win over Andorra has catapulted the side into unchartered territory as never in the history of the Maltese game has a national team found themselves in a position to challenge for top spot in a qualifying group.
There is a huge level of expectation from the Maltese fans ahead of tonight’s match and inevitably that brings with it a huge bout of pressure on the players who are surely not used to such scenario.
But Mangia said that the players should be proud of their achievements so far and has urged them to go onto the pitch and try and finish off what they had started.
“Our mindset against the Faroe Islands is quite clear,” Mangia said.
“We are going onto the pitch to win the match. I think that everybody in our group should be proud of our achievements so far. What they have achieved so far is something positive not only for the football community but also for the country in general.
“Every Maltese citizen should be proud of this team. But it is clear, that we have a job on our hands against the Faroe Islands. We cannot be nervous but only happy to be playing this kind of game for the whole country, and I have no doubt that the players will do their best to complete what we have started. But at the end of the day, it’s a football match and everything can happen.”
Asked whether the senior players in the team will play a key role in today’s decisive game against the Faroe Islands, Mangia said: “All the players in the team are equally important.
“Those not so young can provide to the team the experience that is needed while the young players will also be important for us as they may not have so much pressure of the occasion and can play more freely and that can help us to express ourselves better.
“The match against the Faroe Islands will be easier for me to motivate my players as I’m sure that they will take to the pitch super charged to get the result we all want.
“They just need to be clever to approach the different phases of the match with the right mindset.”
The Malta coach said that he has yet to decide on his starting formation for today’s match but the Italian is set to welcome back in the fray key defender Steve Borg who missed the Andorra game through suspension but Jean Borg is still out due to a leg injury.
On his part, Malta captain Andrei Agius said that having the national team in such a healthy position is the result of a lot of work done by both the players and the technical staff and he urged his team-mates to give everything they have for all the Maltese football fans who are itching for a win tonight.
“We have a clear idea of what we need to do against the Faroe Islands,” the
Hibernians defender said.
“At 34 years of age, I know that I have a big responsibility to help my younger team-mates to feel confident on the pitch and follow our game plan.
“The biggest change I have seen in the national team in the last few months has been from a mental point of view. We are a team that is keen to attack and play positive football, particularly when we are facing countries of our level.
“In this level, small details could make a huge difference and that is clearly shown in our recent matches. For example, we are working more on set-pieces and we have been rewarded for that with the team scoring much more from these situations.
“We have analysed against the Faroe Islands and looked at which areas we can improve from our game in Torshavn and hopefully those details will help us get the job done.”
Agius said that the fact that there are so many young players in the team could be somewhat of an advantage for them.
“We have a team which is formed by players who have a lot of experience and others who have not played so much at this level,” he said.
“The young players in the team maybe are not so aware of what is happening at the moment and will be heading into the match with a more tranquil mindset that will see them play with more freedom and that can be a huge advantage for us as they can express themselves better.
“These represent the future of the national team and despite being so young, they can play a key role in writing a new chapter in the history of Maltese football and that is a great way to start their international careers.”
WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
30.04.97 Malta vs Faroe Islands 1-2
08.06.97 Faroe Islands vs Malta 2-1
23.03.19 Malta vs Faroe Islands 2-1
15.10.19 Faroe Islands vs Malta 1-0
18.08.04 Faroe Islands vs Malta 3-2
19.11.13 Malta vs Faroe Islands 3-2
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE
07.09.18 Faroe Islands vs Malta 3-1
20.11.18 Malta vs Faroe Islands 1-1
03.09.20 Faroe Islands vs Malta 3-2