The Malta women’s national team is set to open its 2022 commitments with two unique challenges as they will rub shoulders with Moldova and Morocco for the first time in their international history.
Both teams together with hosts Malta will be participating in the second edition of the VisitMalta Women’s International Trophy.
Ranked 95th in the world, Malta is looking to bounce back from the recent defeats against Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina during their latest 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifications.
A 2-0 defeat against Montenegro on home soil and a 1-0 loss away at Bosnia-Herzegovina do not make justice to the displays that Mark Gatt’s side put on against those two teams.
For midfielder Shona Zammit, this tournament is the perfect opportunity to make amends for those two defeats and make their positive performances count.
“We managed to perform very well against Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina even though the opponents were very difficult to face and the fact of having an away game, made it even harder,” Zammit told the Times of Malta.
“Our next step is to capitalise on our opportunities to find the net and that is a fundamental step if we want to obtain positive results, especially during the qualifications.
This tournament will help us to test ourselves once again on this stage and if we manage to build on our strengths and improve our weaknesses, we can do very well against Moldova and Morocco.”
Zammit, who has made 59 appearances at international level, knows how important it is for the Maltese players to make an upgrade in their level from every aspect when they have to play against other national teams.
She herself spent a year abroad when she played in Italy’s Serie A Femminile with Pink Bari during the 2019/2020 season, scoring also a famous goal against Inter as she has 60 goals at club level and six with the national team.
“It is very important for our national team to be active during the international breaks because we gather together, play these difficult games while keep the progress steady,” Zammit explained.
“Playing friendlies serves as a bridge to the competitive fixtures, therefore it helps us to adapt to the required intensity for those games because obviously our league’s physical and intense level is no match for what facing the likes of Denmark and Russia is.”
Like Malta, Moldova -ranked 100th – are involved in the 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifications where they are in Group G alongside Italy, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia and Lithuania.
Their squad is composed of several foreign-based players who feature in some of the best leagues across Europe namely Italy, Cyprus and Ukraine.
Morocco, on their part, are one of the much-improved nations in African women’s football and are currently ranked 78th in the world.
Coached by two-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winner with France’s Olympique Lyon, Reynald Pedros, Morocco will use this tournament as a preparation for this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations that they will host and which will serve as a qualification tournament for next year’s Women’s World Cup.
The North African side are striving to qualify for their first-ever Women’s World Cup and their squad is mainly composed of players from Morocco’s best club – ASFAR. Tottenham Hotspur’s Rosella Ayane, former England youth, is also one of the key names in the Morocco’s side.
Photo c/o Jonathan Borg