The first international commitment of the 2022 calendar for the Malta women’s national team will see them face Moldova, as the VisitMalta Women’s Trophy gets underway on Wednesday at the Tony Bezzina Stadium (kick-off: 4pm).
The second edition of this international tournament hosted on Maltese shores will serve as an opportunity for Mark Gatt’s side to improve on their achievements in recent games.
Despite the defeats to Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina in their last outings late 2021, coach Gatt is pleased with the progress that his group of players has been showing.
In fact, the Malta coach is keen to see his team continue to produce positive football, but he also wants his players to capitalise on the chances they create.
“Our objective is to continue to improve on what we have shown in recent games,” Gatt said.
“The team has been playing very good football and creating a lot of scoring chances, but it is very important that we start make them count.
“Being active during the international window is always important because it helps us to keep playing at this level and help us grow from every point of view.”
For this tournament, which will also see Malta face Morocco in the second and final game, coach Gatt has picked up 22 players including the latest addition at Roma Calcio Femminile – Martina Borg – who replaced Emma Lipman of Como Women.
“These games will serve as an opportunity for me to provide more playing time to different players because at the same time, we will be preparing ourselves for the remaining World Cup qualifiers in April and September,” the Malta coach explained.
Moldova, who are ranked five places below Malta at 100th, are also involved in the European qualifications for next year’s Women’s World Cup.
They are in Group G alongside Italy, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia and Lithuania. Moldova’s squad includes a number of foreign-based players who ply their trade in important leagues across Europe namely Italy, Cyprus and Ukraine. One of the players selected in the squad is Daniela Mardari, who is on the books of Serie C side Crotone and plays with Malta goalkeeper Maya Cachia who is also selected for this tournament.
Coach Gatt sees this match-up as similar to the games that Malta played against other Eastern European teams such as Azerbaijan and Georgia.
“Moldova is a very physical side, much like Azerbaijan and Georgia whom we already faced in recent qualifiers,” Gatt pointed out.
“They are a team that likes to play direct football and I believe that this type of opponent will help us improve physically while allowing us to have more opportunities to attack.
“I believe we can be adventurous in our playing style, but at the same responsible for our duties on the field.”
For coach Gatt, this will be his 59th game in charge of the national team. He will match previous coach Pierre Brincat’s record for whom Gatt worked as an assistant for 39 matches.
“It is a nice milestone on a personal level, but most importantly is that I continued to build on the foundations that coach Pierre Brincat has laid many years ago,” Gatt underlined.
“Throughout the years, we continued to push the benchmark higher and this is thanks to the work that has been done previously.”