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World Cup triple-header is a perfect opportunity for fringe players – Mangia

Malta coach Devis Mangia said that this month’s World Cup qualifying triple-header could provide an opening for players who are not regular for the national team to show their ability.

The Italian was addressing the media after last week named a 30-man squad for the national team’s commitments against Cyprus, at home on September 1, away to Slovenia on September 4 and a trip to Russia on September 7.

For these matches, Mangia is forced to make do without a number of regular members of his squad, namely goalkeeper Matthew Calleja Cremona, midfield trio Luke Gambin, Matthew Guillaumier and Bjorn Kristensen among others.

“I am really looking forward to the match against Cyprus as since I took charge of the national team I will have the opportunity to lead the team in front of our fans at the National Stadium and that fills me with a lot of motivation to do a job for our supporters,” Mangia said.

“I am disappointed to be without a number of players that are currently nursing an injury. It’s a loss for us but the most important thing is the health of the players. But obviously, this is an opportunity for others to show what they can do when forming part of the national team.

“In our squad, there are a number of players who weren’t part of our squad and now that they are with us it’s an opportunity for them to show their ability.”

Mangia said that the fact that football activity was stopped for more than four months in Malta has surely a connection to the number of injuries suffered by several players.

“When you are a football player you cannot switch off and then switch on to play football and pretend to recover your best condition very quickly, it takes time,” Mangia said.

“Some of the problems with injuries are connected to the fact that they have been inactive for more than four months. At the moment, I didn’t have time to check the condition of the players as we only started training today but this week we will analyse thoroughly how are the players and who is the better shape.

“Some data from last March showed that we suffered a lot in the first match and therefore we have to make sure we arrive for the first match against Cyprus with the players who are in the best condition to play.

Kyrian Nwoko, who in the close season left Valletta FC to join Irish side St Patrick’s FC, was not named by Mangia in the squad. The Italian said that his decision to omit the former City forward was not only due to his little playing time at his current club but also due to his current COVID-19 situation.

“Nwoko has had very little playing time with St Patrick’s FC and when one considers that he came into the new season after he hadn’t played for more than four months, I felt that he wasn’t in the condition to be available,” Mangia said.

“But then there is another situation that forced me to take this decision. Kyrian Nwoko has decided not to take the COVID-19 vaccine and as a national coach I have to carry the responsibility to protect all the members of the squad, not only the players but also the technical staff.

“One has to remember that as players we don’t have a special status against COVID-19 and I have to respect all the players in the group to keep everyone safe.”

Malta coach Devis Mangia said that this month’s World Cup qualifying triple-header could provide an opening for players who are not regular for the national team to show their ability.

The Italian was addressing the media after last week named a 30-man squad for the national team’s commitments against Cyprus, at home on September 1, away to Slovenia on September 4, and a trip to Russia on September 7.

For these matches, Mangia is forced to make do without a number of regular members of his squad, namely goalkeeper Matthew Calleja Cremona, midfield trio Luke Gambin, Matthew Guillaumier, and Bjorn Kristensen among others.

“I am really looking forward to the match against Cyprus as since I took charge of the national team I will have the opportunity to lead the team in front of our fans at the National Stadium and that fills me with a lot of motivation to do a job for our supporters,” Mangia said.

“I am disappointed to be without a number of players that are currently nursing an injury. It’s a loss for us but the most important thing is the health of the players. But obviously, this is an opportunity for others to show what they can do when forming part of the national team.

“In our squad, there are a number of players who weren’t part of our squad and now that they are with us it’s an opportunity for them to show their ability.”

Mangia said that the fact that football activity was stopped for more than four months in Malta has surely a connection to the number of injuries suffered by several players.

“When you are a football player you cannot switch off and then switch on to play football and pretend to recover your best condition very quickly, it takes time,” Mangia said.

“Some of the problems with injuries are connected to the fact that they have been inactive for more than four months. At the moment, I didn’t have time to check the condition of the players as we only started training today but this week we will analyse thoroughly how are the players and who is the better shape.

“Some data from last March showed that we suffered a lot in the first match and therefore we have to make sure we arrive for the first match against Cyprus with the players who are in the best condition to play.

Kyrian Nwoko, who in the close season left Valletta FC to join Irish side St Patrick’s FC, was not named by Mangia in the squad. The Italian said that his decision to omit the former City forward was not only due to his little playing time at his current club but also due to his current COVID-19 situation.

“Nwoko has had very little playing time with St Patrick’s FC and when one considers that he came into the new season after he hadn’t play for more than four months, I felt that he wasn’t in the condition to be available,” Mangia said.

“But then there is another situation that forced me to take this decision. Kyrian Nwoko has decided not to take the COVID-19 vaccine and as a national coach I have to carry the responsibility to protect all the members of the squad, not only the players but also the technical staff.

“One has to remember that as players we don’t have a special status against COVID-19 and I have to respect all the players in the group to keep everyone safe.”

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