The Malta U21 team will play Bosnia and Herzegovina in an international friendly on Friday at the Stadium Lučko Zagreb, Croatia (kick-off 17:00).
The Malta youngsters are coming into the match on the back of a disappointing 5-0 defeat to Qatar U-23 last Sunday and coach Gilbert Agius is bracing himself for another tough test for his players.
The Malta U-21 coach pinpointed a number of factors behind Malta U-21’s defeat to the Qatari side.
“We knew before the game that our opponents were in better condition than us, both physically and technically. Our players have been inactive since March. It is true that we spent a few weeks together to bring our fitness back, but we believe that training alone is not enough, these players need more games,” Agius said.
“Unfortunately, even the fact that these players play at a minor or lower level than the Maltese Premier League is also a disadvantage, let alone that they have been inactive since March.
“However, I think the players have tried to do what we want from them. Obviously, we are not happy with the result.
“The performance was analysed, worked hard on what we did wrong during these four days and hopefully we will not repeat same mistakes.
“We knew that there is a gap, and therefore we have to be realistic and understand what our limitations are and what we can achieve.
“One must also keep in mind that this was the first match for this group. A group of which is composed of 15 players who had yet to make their debut. Therefore, I think they also need some time until everyone is on the same wavelength.”
Agius said that goal is to get these kids into the same football philosophy of the national team coach. They are trying to understand and implement it both in training sessions and also in games.
“Against Bosnia it will be another difficult match, we already know that from the physical and technical aspects we will already be at a disadvantage because their leagues have continued – the only leagues that were terminated due to the pandemic in the world are the Maltese – and, same as Qatar, they are ranked in the top 60 in the World FIFA rankings.
“Same as the first friendly match, our job is to try to implement the philosophy of football that the national team coach wants from us. The players know this, and I hope that we avoid the mistakes made in the previous match and move a step forward,” Agius concluded.
Malta v Bosnia friendly international at the tail end of Malta’s U21 training camp in Slovenia, on Friday at 5pm in Zagreb, Croatia.