Football: Malta seek to earn respect against Norway and Italy

Thursday, October 9, 2014, 20:00

It is common knowledge that Malta’s records in international football are none too exalting. Various reasons account for this.

Limited resources resulting in a dearth of talent, failure of our youths to fulfil their early promise, our players’ lack of exposure on the big stage and several foreigners blocking home-grown talent from blossoming in our top division are among the many reasons why Malta ranks low in the international standings.

Beyond the flaky, battling performances such as the gritty display against Croatia when we were reduced to ten men after half an hour and succumbed to a second late goal in a 2-0 away defeat, our national team is

notoriously used to coming out second best, never mind earning some sort of respect when we run our superior opponents close or achieve a points-earning result.

The upcoming Euro 2016 France Group H matches against Norway and Italy on the 10th and 13th October respectively are two more opportunities for our team to earn some sort of acknowlegement when we confront nations of a higher standing.

Norway, still smarting from their 2-0 home defeat against Italy, will want to put that setback behind them when they face Malta on the 10th October at Ta’ Qali National Stadium. Their playing style tends to rely on physical, combative fare and that puts the onus on our players to confront such opposition with equal sturdy play and fruitfully collective tactics.

Italy, more accomplished and always prime contenders to qualify from a qualifying group, will be eager to keep up their clean slate. Our national team will be under pressure to perform to the best of their ability against the ‘Azzurri’ and give the home crowd something to relish. No doubt, the stands should be bulging with spectators, with the Maltese supporters’ backing providing an extra fillip to our units.

Respect from our renowned opponents from the north and especially from the nearby peninsula can only be earned through a polished display of football back by a positive result.

We all yearn for that.





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