The Malta Independent 19 April 2024, Friday
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Friendly: Malta obtains another draw, this time against Belarus

Wednesday, 27 March 2024, 07:24 Last update: about 22 days ago

After drawing with Slovenia five days ago, Malta managed another draw this time against Belarus. The performance was acceptable, but surely the match against Slovenia was richer in quality.

However Marcolini’s boys gave another good display, another step forward, but yesterday the boys in red lacked the killer instinct and left the initiative to their opponents for long stretches, especially at the end of the first half and start of the second

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Marcolini stood to his words and made six changes to the initial line up that faced Slovenia. Malta’s aggressive start was rather surprising with Belarus pushed into their own half for the first 35 minutes. Malta was unlucky in this period when Nwoko’s header hit the upright.

Then gradually Malta eased its grip on midfield and Belarus grew in composure taking full initiative. This continued for a good part of the second half with Belarus missing a couple of chances. But in the last quarter of the match Malta again took control of the game but could not get that goal that would have given the reds their first ever victory over Belarus.

Malta dominated the first half and created various goalscoring opportunities, especially during the first 15 minutes of the game. In the ninth minute, Kemar Reid found his way through the Belarus defence while entering the box, with his grounder missing the upright by an inch. Five minutes later, a Zach Muscat on-target volley from a Guillaumier free-kick was saved by Belarus custodian Sergei Ignatovich. Two minutes later, Malta were unlucky when Kyrian Nwoko headed against the post from a precise Zammit Lonardelli cross.

The first opportunity for the guests was recorded on 20 minutes when an Evgeni Yablonsky 20-meters distance grounder just missed the post. Towards the end of the first half, the match went down a gear with the Belarus defence slowly getting a grip on the Maltese forward line.

Marcolini effected two substitutions during half-time with Vella making his first appearance since November 2022 while AlTumi made his full debut for the national team, replacing Bonello. Six minutes after the re-start, Artem Shumansky’s close-range header in the six-yard box sailed inches over the bar in what was only Belarus’ second real opportunity of the match.

On 67 minutes, Guillaumier’s attempt from the edge of the area was deflected into a corner, which was Malta’s first goal attempt of the half. Two minutes later, Ignatovich had to interfere once more on a Muscat header from a precise Nevin Portelli cross, with Malta steadily increasing the pressure on the Belarus rear-guard.

Muscat came again close with two minutes regular time left but blasted high after some good work by Portelli on the left flank. In the latter stages of the match, Beerman replaced Mbong, re-appearing in the national colours for the first time since October 2020.

Malta’s journey towards the Nations League continues in June with at least one but most probably another two Friendly engagements.

Malta: H. Bonello, K. Shaw, M. Guillaumier, J. Mbong, K. Reid, E. Pepe, K. Nwoko, N. Muscat, Y. Yankam, Z. Muscat, C. Zammit Lonardelli

Belarus: S. Ignatovich, K. Pechenin, D. Polyakov, S. Politevich, D. Nechaev, M. Ebong, E. Yablonski, N. Korzun, P. Zabelin, M. Kireev, A. Shumanski

Referee: Martin Dohal (Slovakia)

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