Malta Football Association
Malta eye first point in Slovakia qualifier on March 26
Mar 3, 2017
Posted in:
National Team
The Malta team before their home World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
The Malta team before their home World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.

Malta will be aiming to open their account in the FIFA 2018 World Cup campaign when they face Slovakia in a European qualifying match on March 26 at the National Stadium (kick-off 8.45pm).

As was to be expected, the national team have found the going tough in this qualifying competition, losing their first four games in Group F.


After opening their campaign with a 5-1 home defeat to Scotland, Malta suffered back-to-back 2-0 defeats to England, at Wembley Stadium, and Lithuania, in Vilnius.

The Maltese team, under the guidance of Italian coach Pietro Ghedin, produced arguably their best performance so far in this World Cup trek in their last qualifier back in November but our players’ bold efforts again fell short as Slovenia prevailed 1-0 to keep within touching distance of group leaders England.


No doubt, Ghedin will be hoping that his players hit peak form for what promises to be another gruelling test against Slovakia.


Ghedin said: “The objective is to try and gain our first point in this competition. Slovakia are not the ideal team to face in these circumstances because they are very strong but, as always, the aim is to give our best by putting our faith in the seriousness and professionalism of our players.”


The Malta coach has called on the local fans to give our national team a boost in the Slovakia qualifier.


“This is a home game and we need our fans to come to the National Stadium and support us,” Ghedin said.


“The sense of togetherness is very important.


“Make no mistake, this will be another tough game for us but we will try to do our utmost to come out of this undesirable situation by winning our first point.”


Defenders Andrei Agius and Jonathan Caruana are out of the frame for the Slovakia qualifier due to suspension.


Agius, the experienced Hibernians defender who has 65 Malta caps to his name, was handed a one-match ban after collecting his second yellow card in the Slovenia defeat.


Valletta captain Caruana, who has played 40 times for the national team, must see out the second of a two-match ban following his red card in the 2-0 away defeat to Lithuania last October.


For their part, Slovakia will surely be going all out to pick up the three points and stay in contention for a top-two spot in Group F.


Led by coach Jan Kozak, Slovakia cruised to a 4-0 home win over Lithuania in their last qualifier to take their tally to six points from four games.


With three wins and one draw, England lead Group F on 10 points followed by Slovenia on eight. Lithuania are behind third-placed Slovakia on five points, Scotland have four while Malta are still without a point.

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