The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Qatar 2022: Malta suffers embarrassing home defeat against Slovenia

Chris Cassar Saturday, 9 October 2021, 06:54 Last update: about 6 days ago

MALTA …………………………. 0

SLOVENIA …………………….. 4

Malta: H. Bonello, K. Shaw, J. Mbong (A. Magri Overend 68’), L. Montebello (J. Degabriele 81’), S. Pisani (T. Caruana 68’), P. Mbong (A. Satariano 57’), E. Pepe, T. Teuma, C. Attard, S. Dimech (L. Gambin 57’), Z. Muscat.

Slovenia: J. Oblak, J. Balkovec, J. Bijol, J. Ilicic (L. Zahovic 71’), S. Lovric (J. Stankovic 71’), A. Sporar (B. Sesko 61’), J. Kurtic (T. Elsnik 83’), M. Mevlja, Z. Karnicnik, B. Verbic (D. Crnigoj 61’), A. Gnezda Cerin.

Referee: Anastasios Sidiropoulos

Scorers: J. Ilicic 27’, A. Sporar 50’, J. Ilicic 60’, B. Sesko 67’

Yellow cards: J. Mbong 66’, A. Satariano 88’.

 

Malta suffered an embarrassing home defeat yesterday against Slovenia, an almost rare event lately. It was surely the worst performance under the helm of Devis Mangia who had given the Maltese public a different national side in recent matches.

However it was a shocking surprise to say the least, as the Maltese were simply outclassed by a vastly superior outfit. To be fair with the boys in red, we had a couple of scoring opportunities, and Luke Montebello should have equalised just before half time, a goal that would have certainly changed the match.

Unfortunately we suffered two quick goals in the first fifteen minutes of the second half, and the game was dead and buried. On sincerely hopes that this was just a one-off unlucky experience, and that the team re-starts were it left before this match against Cyprus on Monday.

It is hard to say what went wrong yesterday, but surely the defence was repeatedly caught on the wrong foot, with the constant pressure from the Slovenian forwards, making it hard for the Maltese to move the ball around. The midfield was fragile too, and outnumbered at times, and unfortunately we missed the few scoring chances created.

However this should serve as a lesson, and Devis Mangia and his staff will surely have some homework to make after such a debacle.

Mangia fielded the usual set up with Pepe, Zach Muscat and Shaw as the central defenders with Joseph Mbong and Cain Attard on the flanks. Teuma and Steve Pisani were the midfield pair with Montebello, Dimech and Paul Mbong in attack.

Slovenia pressed very high in the opening minutes but Malta had the first attempt on five minutes with Attard passing towards Montebello, whose shot on the turn was easily blocked by Oblak. On the other end Lovric tested Bonello from long distance.

Malta had a very opportunity on nine minutes Joseph Mbong’s splitting cross from the right finding Cain Attard who however miskicked in front of goal, with the ball hitting Bijol who almost committed an own goal.

On 21 minutes the VAR came to our rescue when Lovric beat Bonello with a low drive, but the goal was disallowed for an offside position. On 27 minutes Slovenia broke the deadlock when Balkovec went through on the left flank and crossed towards Josip Ilicic who fired low into the net.

Malta had a glorious opportunity on 40 minutes when Teuma’s cross found Luke Montebello completely unmarked, but the Birkirkara striker’s weak header went wide.

No changes were made at the break and Malta received a cold shower five minutes into the second half when Sporar scored a beauty after receiving from Lovric. On the hour Josip Ilicic added to Malta’s misery firing in the third goal following another good move by Slovenia with the Malta defence in apparent difficulty.

Five minutes later Malta almost pulled on back when Kurt Shaw’s header from a corner just missed the base of the upright. On 66 minutes Joseph Mbong received the first booking of the game, a rather heavy booking as Mbong will miss the game in Larnaca on Monday.

And sixty seconds later the Malta static defence was again punished this time with substitute Sesko heading past a bewildered Bonello.

In the remaining minutes Malta tried to keep possession of the ball, managing to do so at times, but Slovenia had some close shaves too, hitting the crossbar in stoppage time through Crnigoj.

Photo: Domenic Aquilina
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