Football: Upbeat Ghedin hopes Malta gain first point

Friday, June 9, 2017, 15:55

Malta’s 1-0- win over Ukraine in Tuesday’s friendly match has strengthened Pietro Ghedin’s optimism ahead of the 2018 World Cup Group F qualifier against Slovenia on Saturday but the national coach knows that a gruelling test awaits his side at the Stozice Stadium.

Led by Srecko Katanec, Slovenia are facing a must-win scenario as their 1-0 defeat away to Scotland in March left them third in the table, five points adrift of England and one behind Slovakia, while Malta are still without a point after five games

Ghedin is hopeful that the feelgood factor within his squad following the cohesive performance against Ukraine will enhance Malta’s chances of getting off the mark in Group F.

“Of course, we won a good game but tomorrow is another match,” Ghedin said during the pre-match press conference.

“It’s a qualifying game and therefore it is very important, also because we don’t have any points and we need to achieve our first point if this is possible.

“But, Slovenia are a very strong team. I watched many games of Slovenia, they have good support at home and strong foreign-based players. They have improved a lot in the last two to three years.

“We will give how much we can and we can give a lot because the players are in a very good condition at the moment. We don’t have any injuries.

“Tomorrow’s game will be a tough one. We need to play with confidence. Normally, our confidence is low after we lose a game but the Malta team has improved a lot.”

The Malta squad had their official training session on the sun-drenched pitch of the compact Stozice Stadium on Friday morning.

All the players emerged unscathed from the session.

Asked about the positive effect the win over Ukraine has had on the Maltese side, Ghedin said: “For us, it’s very important to win, friendly game or competitive, because it boosts your confidnce.

“We are a small country but the players are in good form at the moment and I’m very happy. They suffered a bit against Ukraine who wanted to win the game but our performance was very positive.”

Ghedin has no intention of altering his tactical gameplan, moreso after Malta looked so compact and tactically organised in the friendly against Ukraine.

“The same style of play, we play with five at the back,” Ghedin said.

“We rely on this system. We don’t have a lot of time to stay together and make many changes. It’s better to know how to do one thing very well instead of four or five and you don’t understand anything.

“Better one thing and do it well than try five and you get nothing. That is my idea.”

Striker Jean Paul Farrugia is suspended for Malta after his red card in the 3-1 home defeat to Slovakia in March while defender Andrei Agius is back in the frame after serving his one-match ban.

The referee of Saturday’s qualifier is Lee Evans from Wales.





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