Testing matches for Malta next month
In mid-November our national team will again be called to the test when they face Slovenia on 11 November in a 2018 FIFA World Cup European Qualifier and four days later they confront Iceland in a friendly.
Both matches will be played at the National Stadium.
The arguments surrounding our perennial inability to raise our game to the point of producing positive results have again surfaced after our three qualifying round defeats against Scotland (51 at home), England and Lithuania when we lost both matches on away soil by 2-0.
This state of affairs is putting pressure on the players and the coaching staff who are definitely working hard to achieve targets that have seemed out of reach for the senior side.
Slovenia is another reference point with which we have to grapple. They may not be a top team by European standards but they are a workmanlike outfit as was evident when they played England in their last qualifier.
National coach Pietro Ghedin will, as usual, have a hard task trying to seek the right balance between caution and enterprise. The element of mental preparation will also come into the frame since our players will have to shed off the fear-of-losing factor and, while treating our opponents with respect, we should not discard our ability to carry some form of threat when in possession.
The game against Iceland, though not competitive, could also help towards this process of rehabilitation never mind this Nordic team having gained prestigious competitive results in recent years.
The outlook on our part has to be a positive frame of mind with the ability to retain possession and move forward menacingly.
Ghedin has this huge task to contend with.
It is hoped that the Maltese public will provide our boys with muchneeded backing at the Ta’ Qali national stadium.