Gilbert Agius, the Malta interim coach, said that he is focused on providing continuity and stability to the national team as they prepare to host Greece in a friendly international at the National Stadium on Thursday (kick-off: 6pm).
During the past weeks, the national team set-up was rocked by the news that former coach Devis Mangia was facing accusations of improper conduct by two national team players, leading the Malta Football Association (MFA) to open an investigation on the case.
Last week, Mangia resigned from his post and the MFA appointed Agius as interim coach and the Malta U-21 coach said that he is determined to do everything he can to ensure that the team continues its development process.
“For me it’s a huge honour to be able to assist with the national team’s technical staff for these two friendlies,” Agius said.
“When the Malta FA asked me to step in, I was happy to accept and my goal was immediately that help the players continue do the work they were doing in the previous month and continue to grow as a group.
“Greece will be a very tough test for us. They are ranked 52nd in the world and from what we have seen they are a very solid side, who boast a very strong defence, play fluent football and boast a lot of players who ply their trade in some of the best championships in Europe.
“For us, these matches are always tough tests but this will be the perfect preparation for the national team’s commitments in the Euro 2024 qualifiers where we will face some strong national teams such as Italy, England, Ukraine and North Macedonia.”
For today’s friendly against Greece as well as the warm-up against Ireland on Sunday, the national team selectors have brought back a number of players who have been missing from the group in the previous months.
Agius made it clear that the national team boasts a huge pool of players and it’s only natural that sometimes some members of the squad miss out, but he emphasised that the doors of the national team are always open for everyone.
“Since the MFA project of the MFA started three years ago, we had a pool of 45 players who were part of the squad and sometimes it happens that some of these have to miss out,” Agius said.
“But the doors of the national team are open for everyone and our role is to try and continue to give stability and continuity to all the players.
“For the past 20 months the players have been used to a kind of football philosophy and we will continue with that for the match against Greece.”
Asked why James Brown was not part of the national team selection, Agius said: “James Brown has been struggling with a foot injury for the past few months and although this was not stopping him from playing we felt that it would be better if he missed these matches so he could recover full fitness and be ready for the next international window next year.”
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