National Teams

Woods - Kazakhstan will surely represent our toughest challenge to date

Published: 15-11-2023 10:42
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The Malta U21 Team coach Ivan Woods conveyed his positive mood in terms of the spirit and preparation of his players ahead of the Kazakhstan test on Thursday, however played down any overenthusiasm, insisting playing at this international level you have to dig deep every single moment, and in every situation over the 90 minutes and there is absolutely no guarantee of points in the bag.

On Thursday the U21 Team faces Kazakhstan in the fifth UEFA European U21 Qualifying Group B encounter, this will ensue with a friendly international fixture on Sunday as the team cross swords with Lithuania, both matches to be contested at the Tony Bezzina Stadium in Paola, kick off in both 6 pm.

On the eve of the qualifying match against Kazakhstan, Woods shared the message he delivered to his players in the days of preparation leading to this important fixture.

“This is our toughest match so far in this Qualifying group, we know that against Kazakhstan expectations could be high, I’m pleased with the work ethic, attitude, and desire of my players in previous matches, but we must stay fully concentrated in the 90 minutes ahead.

“We have all noted the significant improvement this team has recorded from the opening encounter and the defeat to Spain in September to the encouraging performance last month away to Scotland and albeit the unlucky end result".

Coach Woods highlighted, “Kazakhstan on Thursday will be yet another hard nut to crack, we have followed their run so far in this group, they have lost narrowly to Belgium, also against Spain where they lost 4-0, they still created chances and produced competitive football.

“We are facing a side coming from a country of 20 million population, therefore feet on the ground, albeit we believe in our potential, confidence, and preparation of our players leading up to this game.

In reference to the final 23-man squad announcement, coach Ivan Woods hailed the commitment by his players, including some new faces in the group who will surely maximize this opportunity, also selected amongst other attributes, for amassing significant playing time with their respective clubs.

“It's all credit to my players that physically we are in a better shape, being that they have navigated more playing time in their feet, and performing at the best of their abilities also at club level.

Malta U21 Team coach concluded, “We will miss a few players who were forced to withdraw due to injury, they will absolutely bounce back for next time, we must now focus on this group of players who I’m totally sure will help the squad in our objectives and targets for the 90 minutes ahead against Kazakhstan”, Ivan Woods concluded.