Coach Mangia criticises Birkirkara coach for questioning his technical staff’s work
Malta national coach Devis Mangia announced that Hibernians trio Andrei Agius, Ferdinando Apap and Bjorn Kristensen have been omitted from the latest Malta squad for a breach of the team’s code of ethics following their hefty suspension from UEFA.
On Monday, the Times of Malta reported that Hibernians were severely punished by the European governing body of football following their elimination from the UEFA Conference League third qualifying round to Latvian side FC Riga.
Andrei Agius and midfielder Bjorn Kristensen were handed a five-match ban by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body while Ferdinando Apap was slapped with a four-match suspension.
Coach Stefano Sanderra and team manager Jesmond Abela were also handed a five-match ban for unsporting conduct.
“The reason I have decided to omit Andrei, Bjorn and Ferdinando is very simple, we have a code of ethics and their behaviour on the pitch in that match didn’t respect it,” Mangia told reporters.
“I understand their frustration on the day and personally I was disappointed that Hibernians were eliminated as it would have been a huge boost for Maltese football if we had a team that qualified to the group stages of the competition.
“However, they have to understand that players in the national team are role models for youngsters and have to set an example and their behaviour was not acceptable.
“Added to that I had a similar incident with an U-17 player who had been called to the squad a few months ago when he was suspended for three matches and when I summoned to my office and asked him what I should do he had replied to me that he should be sent home. So, I couldn’t decide differently.”
Mangia also hit out at comments from Birkirkara coach Andre Paus who in the build-up to his team’s match against Gżira United had lamented that his national team’s players returned to the club without recovery, with Enrico Pepe injured and Cain Attard tired.
“From the first day that I came here in this job I have never let anyone say that my work or that of my technical staff is not professional… it is super professional,” Mangia said.
“In all Europe, after the last official game the players go back to the club and they do their recovery with their clubs so I don’t understand the criticism.
“Added to that Mr Paus didn’t quote me well because I didn’t say that I agreed with his words but if he has a problem he should speak with his president who will then talk to the other 11 presidents in the Premier League and if they agree that the MFA technical staff should take care of the recovery of the players after the last game we will do it even if it’s not part of our obligations according to the FIFA rules.
“To conclude this debate, my style has always been that when I speak to a coach the conversation remains private but unfortunately not everyone is like me.
“If we want to build something here everyone should work together and keep our focus on the big picture which is to see Maltese football continue to blossom and help to develop the game of football here. If we are to achieve our targets we have to work together.”
Back to Malta’s upcoming qualifiers against Slovenia at home and in Cyprus, Mangia has brought in a new face in wing back James Brown who is on the books of Scottish Premier League side St Johnstone.
Mangia said that he has yet to work closely with the player but from what he saw he is someone who can give the team something different.
“It was the Malta Football Association who made the evaluation of the player and obviously consulted me and I was happy to bring him in our squad,” the Italian said.
“He is a player that can give us something different. He can play in all three positions in our three-man defence as well as wing back. It’s still early to say what he can do as he has yet to train with us but indications look very good.
“Unfortunately, at the moment he is recovering from an injury and has missed the club’s last two matches but hopefully he will recover in time and be with us next week.”
Mangia confirmed that Yannick Yankam has forced to sit out of next month’s qualifiers as he is currently in hospital recovering from a health issue.