Gilbert Agius is set to make his debut as Malta Under 21 coach on Sunday evening when his young players take on Slovenia in a friendly (kick-off: 6pm).
The former Valletta coach succeeded Silvio Vella at the helm of Malta U-21 last March but it was only in the last few weeks that he had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with his players who in their majority have not represented Malta at this level.
The team is currently in Slovenia for a ten-day training camp where the new Malta U-21 coach is looking to gel the team together as they step up their preparations for their opening matches of the UEFA Championship qualifiers that get under way in September.
Contacted by the Times of Malta, Agius said that he was delighted with the attitude of his players and is looking forward to seeing his charges in action against the Qatar U-23 selection.
“Everything seems to be going well at the moment,” Agius said.
“I am very pleased with the work ethic, attitude and behaviour of all the players in the group. This is the first game of this group of players and it’s a good test to gauge where we stand regarding the implementation of our idea of football that is the same as that of the first team.”
The Malta youngsters are set to have their work cut out as they face a Qatari selection that is currently stepping up their preparations ahead of their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Qatar U-23 Olympic team is more or less the same team that participated in the final stages of the Under 20 World Cup,” Agius said.
“They play possession-based football with a fluid 4-3-3 formation composed by technical players who are comfortable on the ball. They also have some fast attacking players so it will be very important for us that we start well and remain focused throughout the whole match.”
Asked what he wants to see his players against Qatar, Agius was quite clear on his objective.
“I want to see the players show confidence and belief to play our idea of football, that is the most important factor for us at the moment.”