Malta stand-in coach Davide Mazzotta hailed the grit and determination of the national team players during their come-from-behind friendly win over Israel on Tuesday night and said that they dedicated the victory to coach Devis Mangia.
The Maltese national team ended a very difficult day, which was marred by the suspension of coach Devis Mangia for ‘breaches in the association’s legal policies’, in some style as late goals from Alex Satariano and Ferdinando Apap handed the team a 2-1 win over Israel in a friendly at the National Stadium.
The news of Mangia’s temporary suspension has surely rattled the national team camp on Tuesday, particularly following revelations that the former Italy U-21 coach was being investigated for alleged sexual harassment towards a national team player.
But Mazzotta said the players showed great character to secure an impressive win over Israel.
“I am very happy with the performance of the players,” Mazzotta said after the match.
“The players gave everything they had on the pitch. Probably they have reacted to a very difficult time and have dedicated this victory to coach Devis Mangia.
“They have given everything they had on the pitch, playing a great match, full of sacrifices and showing great tactical organisation. No doubt, they deserved to win.”
Asked on the future plans of the national team, particularly with the draws of the Euro 2024 qualifiers scheduled for next week, Mazzotta said that he is still unaware of what will happen but thanked the Malta FA administration for the support shown during this difficult time.
“The team in the last few years have worked very well,” Mazzotta said.
“We have created a good technical project. The team has a good identity of play, the players have shown character and the young members of the team now have the experience to play at the highest level.
“Anything else I cannot say as I don’t know what will happen tomorrow morning. But I want to thank everyone, particularly the MFA president and the general secretary who have been very supportive in this difficult time and also all the people in the federation who have done all they could to show their support to this team.”
On his part, Steve Borg, the national team captain, said that last Friday’s defeat to Estonia was hard to fathom for the players and they were determined to put things right against Israel.
“The game against Estonia didn’t go down well with the players,” the Ħamrun Spartans defender said.
“We were disappointed with the result and today we took the pitch determined to do all we can to get a good result.
“We found ourselves behind after the referee awarded Israel an inexistent penalty but that is part of football. We continued to press our opponents and missed a lot of chances but in the end our efforts were rewarded and the best team won.”
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