Malta open their UEFA Nations League campaign with a difficult away match against the Faroe Islands this Friday but Michael Mifsud and Andrè Schembri, the national team’s captain and vice-captain respectively, are approaching this new competition in a positive frame of mind
“Friendlies are being replaced by matches that have more meaning,” Mifsud, who this summer joined Birkirkara, told www.mfa.com.mt.
“It’s a nice thing that we have more possibilities as a small nation in this competition. Everyone is looking forward to it.
“At the moment, there is a great unity within the squad, there is a very positive atmosphere. We are eager to play this first game and we all believe we can get something out of it.
“This a new challenge and we are all looking forward.”
Schembri, who helped Apollon Limassol reach the group stage of the Europa League last week, is aiming high.
“The UEFA Nations League is an interesting competition,” Schembri said.
“The teams in the different groups are more or less of the same level. I believe a lot in this Maltese team, we have a strong squad and yes, why not, we should aim to finish first.”
After Friday’s match against the Faroe Islands at the Tórsvøllur Stadium in Torshavn, Malta host Azerbaijan at the National Stadium on Monday. Kosovo are the other team in Group D3.
Looking at our opponents in this group, Mifsud said: “They are all ranked above us.
“Although we do have a chance, they are all valid teams.
“People might think that Kosovo are the lowest-ranked team but they are probably the strongest side in the group. Every game has its own story, every game will be difficult but I’m positive that we can do well.”
In the latest FIFA rankings, Faroe Islands were 90th, Azerbaijan occupied position 105, Kosovo 141st and Malta 184th.
While embracing the work of the new coaching staff, led by Ray Farrugia, and the upbeat mood in the Maltese squad, Schembri believes that a good result against the Faroe Islands would set the tone for a positive UEFA Nations League campaign for our national team.
“It’s going to be a difficult game,” the 32-year-old forward said. “We have played against Faroe Islands before and also managed to beat them in a friendly.
“It’s going to be tough because we are playing in a different climate and a different environment but I believe in this team and if we manage to win this game, I’m confident that we will have a positive tournament.”
Both Mifsud and Schembri called on the Maltese fans to get behind the national team, especially in home games as, in their own words, “playing in front of a large crowd at the National Stadium gives us added motivation”.
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