Fifa World Cup 2014 qualifier match – Armenia vs Malta

Thursday, June 6, 2013, 16:35

David Galea from Yerevan, Armenia

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifier match from Group B between Malta and Armenia, to be played tomorrow in Yerevan, this morning at around 10:00 a.m. the national team players took part in the second training session. Today’s session was held at the Republic Stadium in Yerevan, the same venue where the match will take place, but prior to that a Press Conference has been held at the same place. Attending were Pietro Ghedin, the national team coach, and goalkeeper Justin Haber.

In his initial comments, Pietro Ghedin said that the team is preparing well for tomorrow’s match, and despite having four important players missing, all of the members in his squad are valid. He added that the aim is always to win every game and that tomorrow will be no different, but acknowledged the fact that Armenia has a stronger squad and possess some quality players despite some of whom are still very young. On Michael Mifsud, Ghedin remarked that despite the striker having had a slightly-disappointing season, Mifsud is a fundamental member in the squad. Being the captain and complimented with his experience, it makes him an invaluable player, who also knows how to rise to such occasions.

Justin Haber, the Malta goalkeeper, said that last season was not easy for him. After 7 years playing abroad, he returned back to his home country to play with Mosta and half-way through joining Birkirkara with whom he won the Premier League. During this season he also lost his place as Malta’s no.1 at national level, but regained his place as Ghedin’s first choice for the match against Italy. He said that he is working hard to keep his place and to pay back the trust shown in him. Furthermore, he reflected that playing for your own country is always an honour, and that he wears the national colours with pride. Haber insisted that all of the players are motivated and are doing their best in their preparation for this game, and although coming from a long and hard season they will find the energy and the spirit needed.

Asked about the formation for tomorrow’s match, Ghedin was not eager to unveil his plans, only hinting that most likely it will be the way he deployed the players during yesterday’s training session. This means, that Ghedin will probably be using a 4-4-1-1 system with goalkeeper Justin Haber, Jonathan Caruana and Luke Dimech as central defenders, Ryan Darmanin as a right back and Alex Muscat on the left. Central midfield will be occupied by Gareth Sciberras and Roderick Briffa, Edward Herrera will play as a right-midfielder, whilst on the left wing it will either be Clayton Failla or Andrew Cohen. The attack will be spearheaded by Michael Mifsud, while Andre Schembri will be deployed slightly behind the main striker.

Meanwhile, during the other press conference held later on the day, the Armenian national team coach, Vardan Minasyan was visibly uncomfortable in replying to a question posed by a particular local journalist. Although all of the local journalists in attendance asked questions in their native language, one of them decided to put his question in English. The issue involved Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the most valuable player in the Armenian national squad, who plays for Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine, and who after the last home match played last March against the Czech Republic (Armenia lost 3-0) criticised some of his fellow colleagues, stating that while he was doing all of his efforts for the national team,some of his team-mates had an unprofessional attitude, and were not fully devoted to the national team. Minasyan replied in short and in the Armenian language, but later on the same journalist explained to us that basically the coach’s reply was that there is no tension in the squad and that all is settled. On other matters, Minasyan admitted that against Malta his team will take a more attacking approach, and that Michael Mifsud is the best player in the Maltese team, who can be a threat. The match will be played on Friday 7th June, at 8:00 p.m. local time [6:00 p.m. in Malta]. Match officialswill all be from Northern Ireland’s federation. Mr Arnold Hunter will be controlling the match, assisted by Eamonn Shanks and Richard Storey, and Mark Countney the fourth official.



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