The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Malta can earn historic promotion in Nations League

Chris Cassar Tuesday, 17 November 2020, 07:40 Last update: about 17 days ago

National coach Devis Mangia said that the Maltese players should be proud to have this opportunity to play a game that could promote Malta from League D to League C in the Nations League.

Mangia was addressing the media in the usual press conference on the eve of the crucial match from the UEFA Nations League Group D against Faroe Islands.

This is a historic match in the 120 years of history for the MFA.

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For the first time ever Malta can win the group of an international competition organised by UEFA. Malta is only 90 minutes away from writing a golden page in its football history, as a victory for the boys in red – with a two-goal margin or 1-0 or 2-1 - will mean topping the group and automatic promotion to group C in the next UEFA Nations League.

It will not be an easy task for the Maltese as Faroe Islands many a times proved to be a hard nut to crack for the locals, and they are still unbeaten so far in this group. But as the match in Torshavn showed, Malta is up to it, and on recent showings a victory is well within reach of the Maltese.

Mangia said that the Maltese players do not need motivation for this match. He said the players are well prepared and looking forward to give their all at Ta’ Qali on Tuesday evening. He said the players are aware of the importance of the match and that if they reach their goal, this will a very good thing not only for the football community but for the whole country.

Mangia said that the Malta team has to be clever and understand the different situations that the game might offer. Asked about the progress shown and about his programme with the national team, Mangia said that before meeting and getting to know the players, he would have been surprised to see his side fighting for top spot in the group, but now that he got to know this group of players in the last months, he is not surprised that the Malta team arrived so far.

He said that he has a group of very intelligent players, a good mix of some very interesting youths and veteran players who amalgamated well. Mangia said that everybody knows what to do, and whatever happens on Tuesday, everyone should be proud with the results obtained so far by the Malta squad in this group.

Mangia did not elaborate on probable line ups, but the return of Steve Borg in defence is almost certain. Mangia said that Valletta defender Jean Borg is surely out of the match, and that he will take a final decision after the last training session at Ta’ Qali.

Concept is completely different - Andrei Agius

Defender Andrei Agius also gave comments during the press conference. The Hibernians defender is considered an asset to the team said that although the match is very important, it is a game like the others. However Agius said that is rather unique that we are fighting for the top of the group and not to avoid the last place in the group.

Agius said that a lot changed in the last months, especially changes in the concept of the game. Agius said that our opponents will not start as favourites, and said that the only advantage they have is that they have two results out of three which can put them through, whilst only a victory will make the Malta clan happy.

Malta will qualify if…

It wins with a two-goal margin or more, whatever the result.

A 1-0 or 2-1 victory. If the result is 3-2, 4-3 and so on, it will be the Faroe Islands who qualify, as per criteria below…

Tiebreakers for group ranking

If two or more teams in the same group are equal on points on completion of the league phase, the following tie-breaking criteria are applied:[2]

  1. Higher number of points obtained in the matches played among the teams in question;
  2. Superior goal difference in matches played among the teams in question;
  3. Higher number of goals scored in the matches played among the teams in question;
  4. Higher number of goals scored away from home in the matches played among the teams in question;
  5. If, after having applied criteria 1 to 4, teams still have an equal ranking, criteria 1 to 4 are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the teams in question to determine their final rankings.[a] If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria 6 to 10 apply;
  6. Superior goal difference in all group matches;
  7. Higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
  8. Higher number of away goals scored in all group matches;
  9. Higher number of wins in all group matches;
  10. Higher number of away wins in all group matches;
  11. Lower disciplinary points total in all group matches (1 point for a single yellow card, 3 points for a red card as a consequence of two yellow cards, 3 points for a direct red card, 4 points for a yellow card followed by a direct red card).
  12. Position in the 2020–21 UEFA Nations League access list.

 Photo Domenic Aquilina

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