On his 60th game in charge of the Malta women’s national team, coach Mark Gatt would have liked to have capped this milestone with a positive result against Morocco in the second game of the VisitMalta Women’s Tournament.
However, the Maltese side were frustratingly defeated by just a goal to nil by a much-improved Morocco side that is looking to qualify for their first ever Women’s World Cup through the African qualifications.
Backed by the Maltese crowd, including the South End Core, that filled the Tony Bezzina Stadium’s stands, the Maltese team had the opportunity to rise to the occasion and rub shoulders against a very strong team that was going to test their abilities from every aspect.
Heading into this game, coach Gatt had called for concentration because Morocco is a team that likes to switch play and create a lot of movement. Indeed, it was a lack of concentration in the opening part of the first half that costed Malta the game.
“It was a game of two halves,” coach Gatt said after the game.
“In the first half, we committed mistakes that we could have easily avoided and I think we were not concentrated enough.
We did mistakes even when in possession, where I feel that we could have controlled the ball much better but instead we were doing unforced errors.”
The second 45 minutes were a different story as the Maltese players grew and were brimming in confidence. They piled up the pressure on the Moroccan side that was struggling to catch the hosts with transitions, expect for a couple of occasions.
Yet, Gatt’s side failed to make the pressure count – a deja vu of the recent World Cup qualifications outings against Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“I was more pleased with our second half performance because we dictated proceedings but we could have done better in the final third,” the Malta coach explained.
“I feel we deserved a draw in this game. Nonetheless, this is another learning experience for us, just like the whole tournament.”
Coach Gatt elaborated that the VisitMalta Women’s Trophy was an important tournament to keep on building on the foundations laid in this team.
“There is always room for improvement, after every game,” he said.
“For example, we could have easily avoided the goals we conceded while we can be more careful during the offensive phase.
From a physical point of view, we knew what to expect given the lack of matches at domestic and international level in the early part of this year but at the same time we wanted to play in this tournament to get back on track.”
On the other hand, Gatt sees a lot of positives to take from this double-header against Moldova and Morocco. In fact, the Malta coach heaped praise on the staff and the players on the work they have done during such a short time throughout the whole February international window.
“If we look at our positive notes, we continued to gain more possession and create chances, and I think we have to pinpoint those moments in order to improve on them and be more sharp and decisive,” Gatt underlined.
“These two games allowed us to introduce some new faces into the squad while there are others who are providing us with more options on the field given their versatility.”
Malta return in action in April when they host giants Denmark and Russia during the 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifications.
Photo c/o Chris Sant Fournier.