Players react to critics with solid performance

Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 20:52
Both teams standing for the National anthems prior kick off

by Sandro Micallef

Malta 1 – Georgia 1

EURO 2012 Qualifier Group F

Malta was in action tonight to salvage at least a point from the September double header as John Buttigieg’s squad faced Georgia. A night in which the brave players gave a solid display and a polite reply to the critics after their latest display which left much to be desired in the early stages of the game.

The crowd at the National Stadium visibly counted less than last Friday’s qualifier where Malta lost to Croatia 3-1 and those who did not turn up on Tuesday evening will surely feel sorry about their decision.

After some harsh criticism on popular social networks by the general public, the players stood up for the occasion to shut the armchair critics and the many pronounced coaches on this island.

After Enzo Gusman’s pre-recorded National anthem, the boys in red were positioned in the classical 4-4-1-1 format.

Buttigieg opted to leave Manny Muscat on the bench and hand the right back role to Roderick Briffa. The Valletta player was flanked by Caruana and Agius in central defence and Failla was confirmed again as left-back. Hutchinson retained his starting shirt after his positive performance against Croatia alongside Cohen, Fenech and Gareth Sciberras. The latter was deployed in midfield after his last match in defence alongside Andrei Agius.

Mifsud and Schembri were again confirmed upfront.

It was a totally transformed Malta side with minimal mistakes especially in midfield where all the players took extra care and caution not to repeat the silly upsets of the game against Croatia.

Hogg was instrumental on several occasions where he blocked an array of attempts by the Georgian forwards. His saves paved way to lift up the morale especially after Malta was already a goal down in the first fifteen minutes of the game.

The final score (1-1) gave Malta their first point in Group F of the current UEFA Euro 2012 qualification, thus putting all the technical staff at the MFA in high spirits and all geared up to face next month’s double fixture against Latvia (away) and Israel on home soil four days later.

First Half:

5min. Hogg punches the ball inches over Iashvili’s head

12min. Schembri’s pass sees Michael Mifsud firing a low shot from outside the penalty area with keeper Revishvili saving in corner.

15min. Goal. Georgia set their intentions straight as defender Kankava comes across an assist from the right hand side and heads just past Hogg, with Assistant referee Van de Van confirming that the ball had initially gone over the goal line.

16min. Referee Van Boekel changes the ball for the second time in the game.

25min. Goal. Malta levels the score thanks to a top class execution by captain Michael Mifsud, scoring his 30th ever goal for Malta and the 4th in the last three games.

29min. Schembri’s attempt is wide after receiving the ball from Cohen.

28min. An individual action planted by central defender Andrei Agius is finished by the same player with a header following an invitational cross from the right.

45min. Hogg saves a shot by Martsvaladze, thus saving a dangerous break by Georgia.

Second Half:

52min. Karsluher’s forward Iashvili hits hard from just inside the danger area but his right in swinger is punched by Malta’s Hogg.

60min. Malta looses Ryan Fenech due to an injury, replaced by Bogdanovic.

67min. Blackpool’s new signing Daniel Bogdanovic tries to surprise Georgia’s keeper with an unexpected powerful shot from almost 25 meters.

76min. Schembri is substituted and replaced by Jamie Pace thus Bogdanovic is asked to help Mifsud up front.

78min. Hutchinson’s attempt ends wide.

79min. Hogg saves a low shot by Dvalishvili.

84min. Hogg is again on the alert as he says no to another attempt at goal by the opponents, this time by substitute Kobakhidze.

Line Ups:


N.Revishvili, J.Kankava, G.Kashia, K.Kaladze, Z.Khizanishvili, L.Kobiashvili, O.Martsvaladze (S.Grigalashvili 66min), J.Ananidze (A.Kobakhidzi 76min), A.Iashvili (V.Dvalishvili 61min), D.Targamadze.


A.Hogg, J.Caruana. G.Sciberras, A.Agius, R.Fenech (D.Bogdanovic 60min) , R.Briffa, M.Mifsud, A.Cohen (I.Woods 90min), J.Hutchinson, A.Schembri (J.Pace 76min), C.Failla

Referee: Paulus Van Boekel (Nederlands)

Scorers: J.Kankava 15min (G), M.Mifsud 25min (M)

Yellow Cards: Z.Khizanishvili, G.Kashia (G), A. Hogg (M)


  1. Furjaniz says:

    well done malta u l critics huma is suppporters beltin li ghed jaghmlu min kollox biex inehhu l buttiegieg peress li qala lil gilbert li nghidua kif ini gilbert ta llum mandux post ma 18. Proset Malta u proset lil jhonny u l buzu!!!


  2. Claudio says:

    Well done Malta!


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