Malta U-19 coach Winston Muscat knows that his team face a tall order in the 2019 UEFA U-19 Championship qualifiers as they will encounter heavyweights France and Belgium together with Lithuania with the matches being played at the Centenary Stadium, kicking off this Wednesday.
“This tournament has been on my mind since I was appointed coach of the Malta U-19 team earlier this year,” Muscat told www.mfa.com.mt.
“From day one, we were aware of the difficulties of playing against top nations like France and Belgium but we will never throw in the towel.
“Our boys are determined to work hard and play for each other not only to gain experience but also to obtain good results.
“We’ve been training on all aspects of the game, our tactical shape and discipline, and being well-prepared physically and psychologically to get through potentially difficult situations in these three matches.”
Muscat, who is assisted by Charles Scerri, praised the commitment shown by his players during the build-up for this tournament which gets underway on Wednesday with the encounter between Malta and France at 11am.
“Over the past months, this group of players have shown admirable commitment in training, even during their summer holidays,” the Malta U-19 coach said.
“Lately, we also had a very positive week in Luxembourg where we played two friendly matches.
“We were pleased to win the first match as in sport, results define your progress, but the week we spent in Luxembourg was very useful as it also gave us the opportunity to work on different aspects of our approach to be ready for this tournament.”
After taking on France on Wednesday, Malta meet Belgium in their second match on Saturday.
The Maltese youngsters complete their group commitments with a match against Lithuania on Tuesday, November 20.
Muscat has named a squad of 19 players for this tournament with Hibernians goalkeeper Ryan Vella and Birkirkara forward Carlo Zammit Lonardelli on standby.
MALTA UNDER-19 SQUAD
Rashid Al-Tumi (Palermo); Amara Sylla (Birkirkara); Ryan Vella (Hibernians).
Matthew Portelli (Hibernians); Jean Paul Attard (San Ġwann); Dejan Debono (St Andrews); Zak Grech (Balzan); Adam Magri Overend (St Andrews); Liam McKay (Pietà Hotspurs); Andreas Vella (Hibernians).
Christian Gauci (San Ġwann); Clyde Bouvet (Pietà Hotspurs); Marcus Grima (St Andrews); Bradley Sciberras (Floriana); Shaun Dimech (Valletta); Jamie Sixsmith (St Andrews); Andre Spiteri (Leganes, Spain).
Ayrton Attard (Birkirkara); Paul Mbong (Birkirkara); Alexander Satariano (St Andrews); Carlo Zammit Lonardelli (Birkirkara).
TOURNAMENT FIXTURES (Centenary Stadium)
Wednesday – 14/11/2018
11.00: France v Malta
14.15: Lithuania v Belgium
Saturday – 17/11/2018
11.00: France v Lithuania
14.15: Belgium v Malta
Tuesday – 20/11/2018
11.00: Belgium v France
14.15: Malta v Lithuania
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