The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Agius secures draw with Armenia in Ray Farrugia’s debut as coach

Henry Brincat Tuesday, 29 May 2018, 22:29 Last update: about 7 months ago

Malta                      1
Armenia                 1

Andrei Agius scored a penalty near the end of the first half as Malta drew 1-1 with Armenia in a friendly international in Austria on Tuesday.

That goal levelled the score at 1-1 after Yagan had given Armenia the lead on 13 minutes.

All in all, it was a satisfactory start for new coach Ray Farrugia and his boys even if there is still a lot of room for improvement, considering that there were some established players missing this match through injury or other reasons. These included Zach Muscat, Jean Paul Farrugia, Andre Schembri and Bjorn Kristensen.

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Farrugia started with a 4-4-2 formation which included debutant defender Ferdinando Apap and with Kyrian Nwoko also making his first start in the Malta lineup. Usually regular players Ryan Camilleri and Luke Gambin started on the bench as did veteran Footballer of the Year Andrew Cohen.

In the first half, the Armenians showed superiority right from the start and enjoyed much more possession than the Maltese who were forced to defend for very long stretches.

But in the second half, the Maltese appeared to have a slight edge over their opponents and moved forward much more frequently. Although showing visible improvement, it was disappointing to see the boys losing too many 'easy' balls through bad passing.

Yesterday's match was one of two friendlies during a training camp in Austria. The other is to be played on Friday against Georgia.

Armenia already had a good opportunity to take the lead on the 5th minute. A Maltese defender missed his clearance, completely allowing Yvan Yagan to advance unhindered, but his fine curling shot was excellently turned to corner by the diving Andrew Hogg.

The Armenians were dominating midfield and it was no surprise that they eventually opened the scoring on 13 minutes. In a fast breakaway, the Malta defence was caught napping and the ball found its way to Yagan who this time managed to find the net with a low shot to Hogg's right.

Armenia held the upper hand but Malta finally started to move forward and obtained two consecutive cornerkicks. From the second, taken by Steve Pisani, the ball was cleared out to Paul Fenech whose cross was a little too far for Mifsud.

Malta managed an equaliser on the stroke of half time when in one of their few incursions in the Armenia area, a Zerafa shot was handled by a defender and from the spotkick, Andrei Agius made no mistake.

Soon after the start of the second half, Paul Fenech had a good effort just missing the target, but at the other end, it was Joe Zerafa who cleared from over the goalline following a direct cornerkick.

On 57 minutes, Effiong tried from well outside the area, but his shot went over the bar.

Play degenerated and on 77 minutes, Armenia finished in 10 men when Varazdat Haroyan was shown a second yellow card and was dismissed.

On the 79th minute, Effiong advanced into the Armenia area on the right, but his shot from the angle ended on the side rigging.

Malta

Andrew Hogg, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius, Ferdinando Apap (R. Camilleri), Joseph Zerafa (A. Cohen), Kyrian Nwoko (M. Beerman), Paul Fenech, Roderick Briffa (J. Grech), Steve Pisani (J. Mbong), Michael Mifsud (J. Degabriele), Alfred Effiong.


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