Steve Borg believes that the presence of Maltese fans at the National Stadium could make a huge difference for the national team ahead of tonight’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Cyprus at the National Stadium.
This evening Maltese fans will be able to return to the National Stadium for the first time after more than 18 months to give their support to the national team ahead of their crucial World Cup qualifier against Cyprus which has been seen by many as the team’s best chance of picking up points in this qualifying campaign.
“When you play at home and you can bank on the support of your fans is a very crucial factor in international football,” Borg told the Times of Malta.
“I am really happy that the fans are able to come to the stadium and give us their support. I know how much the South End Core have worked for this match and all the players in the team are fully motivated to get a positive result for them.
“I remember the match against the Faroe Islands in the Euro 2020 qualifiers when we managed to beat them 2-1 in front of our fans and the atmosphere at the stadium was unbelievable. Hopefully, we can recreate that atmosphere against Cyprus.”
Borg, however, was quick to highlight the difficult task awaiting the national team against a Cyprus team who are ranked more than 60 places higher than Malta in the FIFA rankings and who have already picked up four points in Group H following a goalless draw against Slovakia and a 1-0 home win over Slovenia.
“In international football, there is not a match that is easy,” the Gżira United defender said.
“Cyprus are currently ranked in the top 100th in the FIFA rankings while Malta is 177th so that shows the difference that exists between the two countries.
“Having said that in international football you always have a chance of getting a positive result, against Cyprus it is certainly our best chance particularly when you consider the other teams in our group are far stronger than them.
“But we are approaching the match with the same approach as always and we can only promise that we will give all that we have to get the right result.”
Steve Borg has a personal experience of Cypriot football as earlier in his career he had the chance of playing for top-flight side Aris Limassol.
“Football in Cyprus is on another level to Maltese football,” Borg said.
“In Cyprus, I played in the top flight with Aris Limassol, and all teams in the division operated on a professional basis, with clubs having their own facilities, train on a natural pitch, and operate on much bigger budgets than here in Malta.
“The football structure in Cyprus is far more advanced than in Malta. Clubs in the top-flight have a budget of €12 to €20 million a year – we are talking about an amount of money we only dream of here.
“Here in Malta we still have a lot of work to do to reach their level.
“The majority of the clubs do not have their training facilities. At least, here in Malta clubs have started to give their players a professional status which is a step in the right direction, but no doubt we are still lagging behind Cyprus when it comes to having the right structure.”
Malta will have a number of key players missing for tonight’s match as Matthew Guillaumier and Bjorn Kristensen are injured while Luke Gambin is in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. But despite these absences, Borg has no doubts, that whoever will be selected will be up for the job.
“Personally, I always feel a lot of responsibility to try and help young or new players in the national team set up to settle down in the group,” Borg said.
“I believe that being an experienced player I have a duty to be an example for the young players and help them to fit quickly in this group.
“It is true that we have some key players missing but I have no doubt that whoever comes in will give his 100 per cent to carry out his job at the best that he can.”