Malta national teams head coach Michele Marcolini is looking to build a strong bond between his players and the technical staff as they brace themselves for a baptism of fire in the Euro 2024 qualifiers this month.
The national team kicks off its Euro 2024 commitments with an away trip to Northern Macedonia on March 23 before hosting European champions Italy at the National Stadium three days later.
Speaking to the media on the second day of a training camp with the national team players, Marcolini admitted that the team has a huge task on their hands in the Euro 2024 qualifying group that also features England and Ukraine.
“This training camp is hugely beneficial for me as it gives me the opportunity to get to know better all the members in our group,” the Italian coach said.
“I am grateful to the clubs that have given the green light so that the players can join this short camp. My main goal at the moment is to build a strong group of players and to do that it’s important that I get to know better my players even from a human aspect.
“Since my appointment last December, I have watched every single Premier League match and I have been very much impressed by what I saw.
“There is no hiding that we face a very tough calendar of matches as we are playing against some great national teams.
“Given the strength of our opposition, we have nothing to lose but still we need to make sure that give our full commitment in these matches as that is the only way that we can win the trust of our fans.”
Marcolini said that he is not planning to make big changes from the way the team played under his predecessor Devis Mangia.
“As I had said in my presentation, Devis Mangia and his coaching staff had built a very solid foundation,” Marcolini said.
“Our tactical plan will more or less remain the same, but what I’m looking at most is the way how the team responds in certain situations during the match and that is why it is important to build a strong bond between the players.
“I want my players to have a strong attitude on the pitch and then I can make the changes needed from a tactical point of view given the characteristics of our opponents.
“In the next three days, I will be working with my players on some small tactical changes, when it comes both to defending and attacking. But for me, the most important thing is the spirit and attitude of the players.”
Asked to give his views on the level of the Premier League, Marcolini said that he was positively surprised by what he saw so far.
“Maltese football has come a long way in the last few months, as mirrored by the results attained by our clubs in the European matches this summer,” the former Chievo midfielder said.
“Obviously, there is still a lot of work to do if they are to bridge the gap with some major leagues on the continent but there is a lot of talent to work with.
“I have been impressed by a number of young players who are showing great potential and who have the ability to be the protagonists of the national team in the future.
“Speaking of our youth system, I have been pleased with the work being carried out by the youth coaches. It’s important that our young players have the will and determination to succeed in their careers because we do have the structures in place to help them maximise their potential.
“Obviously, if these young players have the opportunity to go abroad it will surely be a great opportunity for them to make that additional step forward as that will help them grow even as persons as they will have to mature much quicker to be independent.”
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