Hints that team could be happy to play for a draw to seal promotion
Estonia national coach Thomas Haberli has told his players to be smart as his team faces Malta in a UEFA Nations League decider in Tallinn on Friday (kick-off: 7pm).
The Estonians head into Friday’s League D on pole to seal promotion as while they are sharing top spot with the Maltese on six points, they boast a superior head-to-head record with Devis Mangia’s team following their last-gaps 2-1 win at the National Stadium in June.
Estonia, who have a game in hand and face San Marino on Monday, can seal top spot if they either avoid defeat on Friday or avoid losing the match with a two-goal margin.
Speaking to the media ahead of Friday’s match, Haberli said that Estonia’s main goal was to seal top spot in the group.
“Our goal is to win the group, which guarantees promotion to Division C,” Haberli said.
“When we go to the field, our goal is exactly the same every time – we go there with the desire to win the match.
“We are aware of the situation in the standings and we have to remember that Malta also has a chance to take first place. I have already made it clear to the players that we need to be smart during the match.
“I hope that we will achieve the goal in a different way,” Haberli added, hinting that he would be open to play for a draw as promotion takes precedence then going out for a win.
“But I am sure that it is going to be a very difficult and balanced match.”
On his part, defender Joonas Tamm talked up on the importance for his team to show good defensive organisation against Malta.
“Yes, during the week we went through the different principles of pressing the opponents during training.
“But that’s only one part of the game. We also have to defend correctly and find a good balance between defensive and offensive play.
“It will be a very competitive game, where the one who wins the duels will be important. We have to play with confidence and, above all, keep things in order in defence.”
For Friday’s match, Haberli is without two key players as Mattias Kait and Marten Kuusk are out due to injury. The key duo join Ragnar Klavan, Maksim Paskoči, Marco Lukka and Markus Poom who had already pulled out of the match with injury.
On the other hand, Taijo Teniste, Henrik Ojamaa, Rasmus Peetson and Martin Miller, who were carrying niggling injuries, are fit to start the match.