The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

Euro 2020: Ray Farrugia aims to beat Faroe Islands in first UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier today

Henry Brincat Saturday, 23 March 2019, 13:15 Last update: about 2 months ago
Photo: Domenic Aquilina
Photo: Domenic Aquilina

National coach Ray Farrugia is aiming to beat the Faroe Islands in the first UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier this evening at the Ta' Qali National Stadium.

Addressing a news conference yesterday afternoon, Farrugia made it clear he would relish a victory, but admitted it will certainly be no easy task.

He said: "We are aware that the Faroe Islands are a good team and have had more time to prepare for this match than we had. We also know their strengths as we have already met them twice in the European Nations League qualifiers.

"But I also know what my boys are capable of. They are all eagerly waiting to do well, especially those who will be in the starting line-up.

"We have prepared well even if I only had my players for just 10 days. If my boys show full concentration and avoid mistakes, then it is quite possible that we will register a good home win."

Farrugia spoke about the commitment of all the players in his squad, especially the new faces, some of whom will be starting the match as well today.

He added: "The players know that I wish to beat our opponents and that is why they are fully committed to do what is expected of them. I am convinced they are mentally also well prepared to face the Faroe Islands.

"We are all eagerly waiting for that elusive competitive home win after 14 years. I am sure the boys will be doing their very best to achieve the three points this evening."

The national coach also said that it was difficult for him to select the players from such a limited number available. "However, we have to move on. That is the situation. Unfortunately, at present we cannot have more players available for selection, but we have to accept that this is the way forward."

Farrugia was unable to announce his starting line-up yesterday afternoon. Yet he indicated that there might be two or even more new faces making their debut for Malta.

He said the youngsters are blending well with the more experienced players and they are learning a lot from the latter players. "I believe I have the right mixture of 'young and old' players," he added.

Valletta FC player Steve Borg also addressed the news conference. He said he agreed with the coach that the squad was well prepared to face the Faroe Islands confidently this evening.

Borg, one of the most experienced players in the squad, said the older players should prove to be an inspiration for the youngsters who, in his opinion, were fitting well into the squad.

Borg said everyone could learn with experience. "We focus on our job game by game, in the hope that we will be able to give our 100 per cent on the important day. It is obvious that the youngsters - the future of the national team - have integrated quickly and I am sure they can be great assets to the national team in future," he said.

Farrugia will certainly have one key player missing. He is Birkirkara goalkeeper Andrew Hogg who has been out of action for the last few weeks with a broken finger.

Farrugia is still uncertain about his replacement, but his choice may fall on the experienced Justin Haber of Gzira or Henry Bonello of Valletta.

 

The squad

Goalkeepers: Henry Bonello (Valletta); Justin Haber (Gżira United); Nicky Vella (Pietà Hotspurs)

Defenders: Andrei Agius (Hibernians); Steve Borg (Valletta); Ryan Camilleri (Valletta); Jonathan Caruana (Valletta); Joseph Mbong (Hibernians); Karl Micallef (Ħamrun Spartans); Nikolai Muscat (Gżira United); Zach Muscat (SC Olhanense, Portugal); Joseph Zerafa (Valletta)

Midfielders: Juan Corbalan (Gżira United); Paul Fenech (Balzan), Jake Grech (Hibernians); Matthew Guillaumier (Birkirkara); Bjorn Kristensen (Hibernians); John Mintoff (Sliema Wanderers); Rowen Muscat (Valletta); Dunstan Vella (Hibernians)

Strikers: Michael Mifsud (Birkirkara); Luke Montebello (Birkirkara); Kyrian Nwoko (Valletta)

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