We need to believe in our own qualities

Monday, March 26, 2018, 8:33

Malta coach Tom Saintfiet wants his players to believe more in their qualities ahead of today’s friendly match against Finland at the Gloria Sports Arena in Belek, Turkey (kick-off 18.00 – Malta time).

“We need to believe in our own qualities, we have to play our own game, more than we did against Luxembourg, and hopefully the players will get rewarded with a result,” Saintfiet told www.mfa.com.mt.

“Even against Luxembourg, we could have won the game had we taken those two opportunities with Andrè Schembri and Paul Fenech… it wouldn’t have been a deserved win but a draw would have been possible and it’s important for our team to get some good results.

“Hopefully we can do that against Finland.”

The Belgian admitted that the last-minute defeat to Luxembourg was a psychological blow but he is backing his players to bounce back from that upset with a stronger showing against Finland.

“After the Luxembourg game on Thursday, there was a low-key atmosphere, the feeling in the dressing room was terrible,” Saintfiet said.

“It was like that in the evening and the morning after, because it (the stoppage-time goal) was a cold shower.

“After that we started building up the atmosphere.

“The focus was first to get the minds back in a positive way.

“The infrastructure here in Turkey is top, perfect organisation and everything is going well.

“The group have started to believe again in their chances. We have swallowed the disappointment of the Luxembourg game, everyone is looking forward to getting a good performance here.”

USEFUL TESTS

The friendly against Finland is part of Malta’s preparations for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, starting in September.

The Malta squad have now been together since last Monday with Saintfiet stressing that these training camps and friendlies are essential for the team to gel and move forward.

“We don’t have much time to train during the year,” the Malta coach said.

“In the past, four to six years ago, there was the scheme and the players trained three to four teams every week.

“We have to use these friendlies and training camps to optimise our work as this is our only chance to work with the players.

“Hopefully we can benefit from spending more time together as a squad and playing the second game where we have to improve our performance and result… it was a cold shower to lose in the 93rd minute against Luxembourg.”

The match against Finland, ranked 68th by FIFA, promises to be another difficult test for Malta but Saintfiet remains upbeat.

“Finland are ranked higher (than Luxembourg), and except for four players, all the others are professionals playing abroad,” Saintfiet said.

“Finland are a very decent team, they have a lot of players playing in the English league, in the German Bundesliga, for Bayer Leverkusen, in Scandinavia, Stockholm (Sweden), Brondby (Denmark), they have playes in the United States and Russia, all over Europe

“They are a physically strong team.

“I hope against Finland, who usually play a flat 4-4-2,we can play our game and can create more offensive chances.”

Saintfiet must make at least one change from the Luxembourg friendly after central defender Zach Muscat suffered a knee injury.

Jean Borg, who made his bow for Malta in the Luxembourg match, has rejoined the senior squad after Muscat’s withdrawal prompted Saintfiet to keep the young Valletta defender who had been due to revert to Under-21 duty.





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