MFA president Bjorn Vassallo voiced his disappointment at Malta’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to the Faroes Islands in Torshavn on Tuesday and said that the result has only increased the need of a new plan of action to revive the fortunes of the national team, with the appointment of a new technical director high on his agenda.
Malta’s defeat in Torshavn was met by huge disappointment from the national team followers.
In a statement, the South End Core, the official national team supporters club issued a statement yesterday where they questioned whether the Malta FA will take responsibility of the result and whether they had a plan on the agenda to improve the fortunes of Maltese football.
Contacted by the Times of Malta for his reaction on the national team’s defeat against the Faroese, that left the team bottom of Group F, Vassallo admitted that the result was a bitter blow for Maltese football and it has only highlighted the perennial problems afflicting the Beatiful Game in Malta.
“Like every football fan in Malta, I am really disappointed with the performance of the team in the 1-0 defeat to the Faroe Islands,” Vassallo said.
“There were great expectations for this match which could have seen the national team pick up six points for the first time in a qualifying group but unfortunately the team failed to deliver.
“I don’t think that the defeat is only due to a bad team performance but from far bigger problems that stem from the way things are being done to finally present Maltese football’s flagship which is the national team.
“No doubt, it was not an acceptable performance where we failed to have one single shot at goal. I’m somebody who likes to see the national team play with the mindset of trying to win matches but that didn’t happen.”
Vassallo said that among the Maltese public there was the wrong perception that the national team was facing a team of the same calibre, but it’s not the case.
“In Malta, we have the perception that the level of a national team is measured by the size and population of a country. Since the Faroes have a smaller population than ours we think that we should be better than them but it does not reflect the football reality,” Vassallo said.
“When you consider that the Faroe Islands have nine players who ply their trade in a professional league while we only had two, from which only one started the match, there you realise that we are racing in Formula One with a normal car. The Faroese, who have a higher coefficient than us, are clearly superior to us and that is something that needs time to be solved with a serious project.”
Vassallo said that the future of coach Ray Farrugia will be assessed when his contract expires in December and will evaluate every option after a serious analysis. Prior to that the Malta FA is expected to install a new foreign technical director shortly.
“We will honour our contract with Ray Farrugia until it expires at the end of the year and then we will have time to see whether we will continue our association with him or appoint someone else,” he said.
“We are in talks with a foreign technical director and hopefully we can conclude a deal with him in the coming weeks. Once the new technical director is installed we will discuss with him the way forward and even the choice of who will be the national team.
“That is because I would like that the national coach will be responsible from the defined playing philosophy from the U-17’s to the senior national team.”
Serie A club talks
The MFA chief said that in the coming weeks he will be stepping up talks to address the national team’s difficulties.
“The Malta FA’s new administration which projects need to be implemented so we reach our objectives,” Vassallo said.
“We need much more players to play abroad. At the moment, we are one of the European countries with the least numbers of players plying their trade abroad with just two.
“We have to do all it takes to create a team made up of Maltese and foreign players who will compete in a professional league and create a bigger pool of players who will have a better shape form.
“At the moment, we’re in talks with an Italian Serie A club to have a sporting collaboration which will see the formation of a team made up of Maltese and overseas players who will be playing on a professional basis in the Serie C. This club will give us the opportunity to have many Maltese players train and play on a professional basis.
“In November I will be meeting with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to decide when we can start playing in the Italian Serie C. It is a practice that has already been followed by Vaduz, of Liechtenstein, who play in the Swiss third division, and Andorra who have a club who in the Spanish third division.”
On a long term basis, Vassallo said that he was in talks with the government to receive the necessary support to start a new programme aimed at helping us produce better Maltese players.
“We need the support of the authorities to be able to have a suitable programme that will help us produce better players,” the MFA chief said.
“This will involve better work in our academies in the different regions to ensure we can give better accessibility in all town and villages in Malta to ensure we don’t lose young talented players who are not identified by the current systems.
“Added we will also look at coaches education, player welfare and child protection through our football foundation which will come into effect in 2020 so that in eight or nine years’ time we will be in a position to produce better players on all levels.
“Everyone in Malta were delighted last weekend with the achievements of the waterpolo national team for what is a great achievement to qualify for the European Championship and I sincerely congratulate them.
“I hope that one day, our football team can come close to such a result.”