It does not get any bigger than this for the Malta national team.
This international appointment could set new records in the history of the national team as Ray Farrugia’s team cross swords with the Faroe Islands tonight (kick-off: 8.45pm), aiming for a positive result.
Heading into the game, Malta are second bottom with the three points chalked up against the Faroe Islands in the 2-1 victory last March. On that day, Kyrian Nwoko and Steve Borg got the goals for the national team, which incidentally remained the only ones scored by the team in the qualifying campaign so far.
Tonight’s game sees Malta on the brink of history as a victory would mean reaching the six-point tally, surpassing the previous best of five points attained by the team coached by Dusan Fitzel during the Euro 2008 qualifiers.
Most of all, a victory would see the Maltese assuring themselves of avoiding from finishing bottom of the group for the first time since the 1994 World Cup qualifications.
Coach Farrugia, who addressed a sense of respect towards his fellow counterpart Lars Olsen in the press conference, underlined the importance of this game as he feels this would boost the rejuvenation process of the national team.
“Faroe Islands are coached by a nice man and an intelligent person in Lars Olsen,” Farrugia said.
“Obviously, this is an important game not only for me but for everyone. Getting a positive result would be a fantastic achievement for Malta.
“It would inject a lot of confidence and motivation into what we are trying to do in order to step up the level of Maltese football.”
Farrugia’s ethos during the previous Nations League campaign and the Euro 2020 qualifiers was to inject several young players and he intends to maintain his promise as long as he remains in charge.
“I insist that the only way forward for us is to continue introduce new players as the old guard can help them integrate quickly in the group while they start to familiarise themselves with the international stage,” he explained.
“It’s important to remember that things do not change overnight, hence we will reap dividends from this process in the long run.
“In addition, facing big teams somewhat provides far more difficult challenges for our project. However, taking into account our latest debutant, Kurt Shaw, he played really well against a top side like Sweden in the previous qualifier and that was a major plus.”
Farrugia said that he will continue to take risks and is ready to suffer more defeats as long as whoever follows into his footsteps will have a solid foundation to work on.
“Imagine having two Michael Mifsuds with me – that would be great because he did a lot for Maltese football and he is respected across European football,” Farrugia said.
“Yet, we have to be honest with ourselves and we need to be patient in order to lift our level. My contract finishes at the end of December but as long as I will be at the helm, I will remain patient and loyal to my vision.
“Having beaten the Faroese last March fills Farrugia with confidence. However, though, he is aware that there is not a big difference between the level of both nations.
“Honestly, we are two similar teams and this game is important for both of us,” Farrugia highlighted.
“All players are available including Rowen Muscat who will start for sure. The only doubt is Jonathan Caruana who is struggling with injury.”
Asked about the difficulties that this appointment can provide, Farrugia said that the Faroes played well against Romania and Sweden, just like Malta did therefore the most important thing will be to remain focused.
“If you don’t enjoy playing football, you cannot play. Football is a game of fun and I think that is one of the problems we have in Malta,” Farrugia said.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and that does not help. We just need to go out and have fun, enjoy playing the game.”
Leading the Malta attack tonight will be skipper Michael Mifsud, on his 141st appearance with the national team.
The 38-year-old is still a decisive player despite his age and is being indicated as the main threat by the Faroese team, who heaped praise on the Birkirkara forward.
“It is nice for me to be considered as an important player by the opponents and that keeps me going,” Mifsud told the reporters
“But the Faroe Islands game is not about me, it’s about the team – it is important that the players help one another to achieve a positive result.
In the previous three games played on Faroese soil, Malta failed to get any points... Mifsud & Co are eager to start a fresh page in Torshavn tonight.