Football: Preview of Ukraine vs. Malta

Monday, June 5, 2017, 15:44

The friendly match against Ukraine on Tuesday is intended to enhance Malta’s readiness for the 2018 World Cup Group F qualifier against Slovenia on Saturday but the warm-up promises to be a difficult one for our national team due to the strength of the opposition.

Describing Ukraine as one of the strongest teams in Europe, Malta coach Pietro Ghedin is eyeing a committed performance from his team but is convinced that his players are well-prepared for the challenge, both physically and tactically.

“We stayed 10 days together at Ta’ Qali and it was very good,” Ghedin said in an interview with www.mfa.com.mt.

“We travelled to Austria yesterday (Sunday). We had a good training session…. the players are in a good condition.

“We need commitment every time because the game is very hard. We are facing a strong team, Ukraine are one of the strongest teams in Europe, but we are ready to play this match.”

Ghedin believes that the friendly, being played at the Mercur Arena in Graz at 19.00, will help his players pep up their match sharpness ahead of the gruelling clash with Slovenia.

“It’s very important to gain match practice because Slovenia is for us a big appointment,” the Italian tactician, now in the fifth year of his second spell as Malta coach, said.

“We need to produce a good performance.”

Ghedin is relying on his tried-and-trusted personnel for this week’s internationals but has also introduced some new, exciting faces as Myles Beerman, the Glasgow Rangers wing-back, Johann Bezzina, the Hibernians midfielder, and Dale Camilleri, of St Andrews, have been awarded their first senior call-up.

Hibernians defender Andrei Agius, who was suspended for the 3-1 defeat to Slovakia in a World Cup qualifier last March, is back in the frame along with the likes of Valletta defender Steve Borg, Clayton Failla and Alex Muscat, the captains of Hibernians and Sliema Wanderers respectively, and Balzan striker Alfred Effiong.

The Malta coach is very pleased with the progress of the up-and-coming players.

“I talk all the time about the newcomers in Malta,” Ghedin said.

“The players are good, we have a good youth sector.

“Now (Johann) Bezzina is going to improve a lot, (Myles) Beerman is playing for Rangers, (he was involved) in the last eight games, and Dale Camilleri has had a good season with Luxol (St Andrews).

“I’m very happy about them but we also have the other players. We need experience and more players to increase the competition in the squad. I’m very pleased.”

 

SHEVCHENKO IN CHARGE

Ukraine are ranked 37th by FIFA while Malta, who are still looking for the first point in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, occupy the 182nd position.

Led by former Milan stalwart Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine are third in Group I, level with Turkey on eight points. They play Finland in their next World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

“It’s going to be very tough,” Ghedin said of the friendly on Tuesday.

“They (Ukraine) are skilful, run a lot and have good experience.

“Now Shevchenko is their coach, there is (Mauro) Tassotti as assistant coach. They have good staff and good players.”





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