Malta coaches urge players to build on Armenia effort

Malta go into their friendly match against Georgia in high spirits after the 1-1 draw against Armenia but national coach Ray Farrugia and his right-hand man Branko Nisevic insisted that the main challenge is to build on that performance in Friday’s match.

Malta coach Ray Farrugia (left) and his assistant Branko Nisevic. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar / MFA
Malta coach Ray Farrugia (left) and his assistant Branko Nisevic. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar / MFA

“The performance against Armenia, apart from the opening 10 minutes, was good,” Farrugia told www.mfa.com.mt ahead of the match against Georgia at the Silberstadt Stadium in the Austrian town of Schwaz.

“There is certainly room for improvement but we shouldn’t forget that this was our first game. We have seen a lot of positives. We need to work harder to ensure that we translate the positives against Armenia into another bright showing against Georgia.

“We need to remain grounded and keep working as we have done over the past three weeks.

“We, as technical staff, have changed the team’s tactical system and approach. There is unity in the squad but the most important thing at this stage is to consolidate our effort against Armenia in the match against Georgia.”

Having suffered three defeats in a row in the last three friendly matches, the 1-1 draw against Armenia has lifted our players’ morale.

While acknowledging that Tuesday’s performance has brightened the mood within the Malta squad, Farrugia said the technical staff have been speaking to the players to make sure that they approach the Georgia test with the right mindset.

“All the members of the technical staff, Branko, Ronald (Vella), Luca (Pagani), Charles (Sciberras) and myself... we talk to the players, especially individually, to show them that we have faith in their potential and to always think positive,” the Malta coach said.

“Just because we have drawn a game against Armenia doesn’t mean that we have arrived somewhere.

“The road is long, there will be hurdles along the way, good results and bad ones, but the most important thing is to keep believing in ourselves and never throw in the towel.”

GEORGIA ON A HIGH

Nisevic, the assistant national coach, knows that Georgia, ranked 95th by FIFA, will be tough opponents for our team.

“Georgia will be another very good, higher-ranked opponent we’re going to meet,” he said.

“In the last two friendly matches they played, they had two very convincing victories – 4-0 against Lithuania and 2-0 against Estonia.

“They are a team who like to control the game, they play a possession game, move a lot and move the ball very fast. We have to be very compact and prepared for this kind of match.”

The coaching team are assessing the physical condition of the players before selecting the team for the Georgia friendly with Nisevic indicating that there might be a few changes.

“We are considering that our players are at the beginning of the pre-season as we’re coming from a three-week break, so playing two international matches in three days is going to be demanding,” Nisevic said.

“With this in mind, we are thinking of putting in some fresh legs for the next game and today (Thursday) and tomorrow morning we will assess the players and see who is in the best condition to start the game.”

Valletta defender Ryan Camilleri has recovered from a minor groin problem and came on as a second-half substitute in the Armenia friendly.

Luton Town winger Luke Gambin has a slight hamstring injury but he is making good progress.

Malta have only beaten Georgia once in eight meetings – a 2-0 victory in a friendly match in August 2009.

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