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Farrugia relishing friendly test as Malta meet Armenia

Posted By Sportinmalta On May 29, 2018 @ 7:07 am In Featured,Football | No Comments

Ray Farrugia will take charge of his first match since his appointment as national coach when Malta face Armenia in a friendly match in the Austrian city of Wattens on Tuesday (kick-off 19.00).

The Maltese squad have been training regularly for the past two weeks in preparation for the Armenia friendly and the one against Georgia on Friday, two games which are a key part of the team’s build-up for the inaugural UEFA Nations League. Malta’s opponents in Group D3 are Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands and Kosovo.

Farrugia has brought a group of 23 players to Austria, including six players who have been promoted from the Malta U-21 squad – Hibernians trio Jurgen Degabriele, Joseph Mbong and Dunstan Vella, Birkirkara midfielder Jake Grech, Valletta striker Kyrian Nwoko and Myles Beerman, who is on the books of Scottish club Glasgow Rangers.

Despite losing a host of established players to injury, Farrugia remains cautiously optimistic.

The Maltese coach remarked that things are looking good, notwithstanding the fact that Andrè Schembri, Bjorn Kristensen, Zach Muscat, Jean Paul Farrugia and Johann Bezzina are out of this training camp due to injuries.

The group contains six young players promoted from the U-21 squad and the national coaching staff looks forward to see them in these games.

These young players have done very well in training and this is a new experience for them, one that bodes well for the future of the team.

Farrugia and his assistant Branko Nisevic have also opted for experience as the likes of captain Michael Mifsud, the recalled Andrew Cohen and Roderick Briffa are flanked by several established players who have featured regularly for the national team in recent years.

The Malta coach praised the excellent attitude and commitment shown by all the players during training.

Farrugia added that the coming games are important to build up for the UEFA Nations League which is drawing closer. This experience should aid the players’ progress ahead of the Nations League as, at the end of the day, these players represent the present and future of the national team.

SIMILAR OPPONENTS

With Armenia and Georgia regarded as similar opponents to Azerbaijan and Kosovo, two of three teams in Malta’s Nations League group, these friendlies are very important for our preparations for this new European competition starting in September.

POSITIVE MINDSET

Although Farrugia is aware of the scale of the task awaiting him, he remains positive. He’s conscious that the difficulties are still there but the team will try and resolve these problems. This will be a gradual and difficult process but with everybody’s support the team will be heading in the right direction.

Armenia, who collected seven points in the 2018 World Cup qualifying Group E, won by Poland, have been drawn against Macedonia, Liechtenstein and Gibraltar in Group D4 of the UEFA Nations League.

Their talisman is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who plays for English Premier League club Arsenal.

Malta won the last meeting with Armenia in 2013 as a Michael Mifsud goal handed our team a 1-0 victory in a 2014 World Cup qualifier in Yerevan.

PREVIOUS MATCHES

Malta vs Armenia (5 meetings)

16.07.94 Armenia 1 Malta 0 (Friendly)

12.09.07 Malta 0 Armenia 1 (Friendly)

02.02.08 Malta 0 Armenia 1 (Friendly Tournament)

07.09.12 Malta 0 Armenia 1 (WCQ)

07.06.13 Armenia 0 Malta 1 (WCQ)

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