Test­ing matches for Malta next month

Malta Independent - - SPORT CLASSIFIEDS -

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.

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