The Malta Football Association have announced that they will be parting ways with national coach Ray Farrugia once his contract expires on December 31, the local governing body of football announced in a statement on Wednesday.

The MFA Bureau met on Tuesday following the conclusion of Malta’s commitments in the Euro 2020 Group F qualifying campaign and analysed the performances of the team under the charge of Farrugia.

Following a long meeting it was decided that the MFA will not be offering a new deal to national coach Farrugia and his technical staff once their contract expires on December 31.

“The Malta FA would like to place on record its gratitude and appreciation for the work carried out by Farrugia and his coaching staff, namely assistant coach Branko Nisevic, second assistant Ronald Vella, Charles Sciberras, the goalkeepers’ coach, and fitness coach Luca Pagani, during their time with the national team,” the statement said.

Farrugia had been appointed as the new national coach in 2018 following the sacking of Tom Saintfiet.

During his time in charge, Farrugia oversaw Malta’s participation in the UEFA Nations League where the team managed just three points after identical 1-1 draws against Azerbaijan, in both their meetings, and the Faroe Islands in their final match.

Next up for Farrugia’s team was the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign which saw the national team claim their first ever competitive victory over the Faroe Islands at the National Stadium in March last year.

But that turned out to be their only positive result in Group F after suffering nine successive defeats, which included heavy defeats to Spain (7-0), Sweden (4-0) and Romania (4-0).

However, Farrugia’s fate was all but sealed in Torshavn last October as the national team slumped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat that condemned the team to bottom spot in the group.

In the aftermath of that match, MFA president Bjorn Vassallo had hinted that he was not happy with the team’s showings and was thinking of overhauling the national team coaching set up with the appointment of a new technical director.

Contacted by the Times of Malta on Wednesday, a disappointed Farrugia refused to give any comments on the MFA’s decision.

However, after Malta’s defeat to Norway on Monday he said that he was peaceful with his conscience.

“What happens about my future is not in my hands but it will be the MFA who will decide,” Farrugia said.

“However, during my time we did what we have promised, which is bringing in young players and give them a first taste of international football. Now, whoever will be in charge of the team for the next competition will have a more settled group of players.”

The introduction of young players was certainly one feather in the cap for Farrugia as during his 18-month spell as national team coach he introduced no less than 11 young players made their debut for the national team, including the likes of Juan Corbalan, Joseph Mbong, Matthew Guillaumier, Jake Grech and Kurt Shaw just to name a few.

The MFA has yet to name the man who will replace Farrugia at the helm of the national team but in all probability the governing body will be going for a foreign coach.

It is understood that the MFA is currently looking at various candidates for both the post of national coach and technical director, following the retirement of Robert Gatt earlier this year.

Reports on Wednesday said that former Italy U-21 coach Devis Mangia was among the favourites to get the job.

Speculation increased as Mangia was in Malta in the last few days however, when contacted by the Times of Malta, the Italian coach said that he was only on the islands to meet some friends.

"Just to make it clear I was only in Malta as a guest of some Italian friends who live in the country," Mangia said.

"During my stay we did yes watch some football matches of the national team but that is that."

Meanwhile, the MFA said that it is steadfastly working to implement a series of projects aimed at improving the level of all the national selections through enhanced football development in line with its long-term strategic programme as adopted by the association’s Executive Committee recently.

Development plans

According to the MFA statements the three projects related to technical development are the creation of a professional football team that will compete in an overseas professional championship.

The setting up of the Inħobb il-Futbol Foundation, a new structure setup to organise and support football at grassroots and youth levels and contribute to the community through football and define a unified and consolidated game strategy for national teams at all levels.”

The next official competition for the Malta national team is the UEFA Nations League group stage that will get underway in September 2020.

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