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Executing game plan to perfection is key for Malta says Zach Muscat

Zach Muscat believes that the team that will adapt better to their opponents’ game plan will prevail as Malta take on Cyprus in a World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Wednesday (kick-off: 8.45pm).

There are great expectations for Wednesday’s qualifier as Malta hopes to pick up points in a match that will see Maltese fans back at the National Stadium for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions banned them from stadia for international matches.

Muscat said that they always approach international matches with the goal of picking up points, irrespective of the opponents they face.

“Every time we face countries that people think we can gain points, the expectations always increase, it’s normal,” Muscat said.

“Our goal is always to get a positive result, irrespective of the opponents. In football, matches are not won by names but by 11 players who adapt better to their opponents’ game plan.

“When we played against Slovakia, I am sure they felt confident to beat us but we rose to the occasion and we analysed them very well and executed our game plan to perfection and that is why we got the result we deserved.”

Malta approach Wednesday’s qualifier without a number of players but Zach Muscat said that it could turn out to be the perfect opportunity for whoever comes in to show that they deserve to be in the team.

“We know that we have some key players missing,” the former Birkirkara defender said.

“This time we have a number of players who are new in the group and maybe they are not so accustomed to our tactical set-up so they need some time to adapt but at the same time they have great motivation to show that they deserve to wear the Malta shirt and that could play in our favour.”

For the last two seasons, Zach Muscat has been plying his trade in Portugal where he is currently playing with Casa Pia.

The Malta defender feels that his decision to switch from Italian football to the Portuguese league has benefitted him hugely as he feels it has given the opportunity to maximise his potential.

“My first experience of playing in a foreign league was in Italy where football is played in a completely different way to Portugal,” the Casa Pia defender said.

“But I have to admit that moving to Portugal was the best decision I could make as the style of the game there helped me to become a more complete player as the coaches there have helped me to bring out my best qualities.

“The Portuguese second division is a very physical championship and is very competitive where you have six or seven teams fighting for promotion and therefore I have to be ready and prepared to perform at a very high level every week.

“Such a high level of play befits me when it comes to playing international football as it’s easier for me to adapt to high-intensity matches.”

Turning his attention back to Wednesday’s qualifier, Muscat said that Cyprus are a very composed team that will surely make life difficult for the home side.

“Cyprus are a very organised team who have a lot of players who have developed a lot throughout the years,” Muscat said.

“They are a very compact side who do not base their game on individual quality but their strength is collectivity. As we saw in the first qualifiers they are capable of not letting their opponents impose their game as happened against Slovenia where the latter rarely created danger to their goal.

“It will be important for us to focus on our game plan and try and dictate the tempo of the game.”

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