Malta Football Association
NEWS:
We must keep our focus, says U-19 coach Muscat
Nov 19, 2018
Posted in:
General
U19 - Qualifiers
Photos: Joe Borg/MFA
Photos: Joe Borg/MFA

  • Photos: Joe Borg/MFA
  • Photos: Joe Borg/MFA

Malta Under-19 coach Winston Muscat has urged his players to keep their feet on the ground and stay fully focused as they head into their final 2019 UEFA Under-19 Championship Group 6 qualifying match against Lithuania at the Centenary Stadium on Tuesday (kick-off 14.15).


The Maltese youngsters are in high spirits after their 1-1 draw against heavyweights Belgium on Saturday but Muscat is adamant that his team will approach their last game in the right frame of mind.

 

“After the game against Belgium, the mood was euphoric,” Muscat told www.mfa.com.mt.

 

“I let the boys enjoy the moment because they deserved it but in the evening, we gathered in the lecture room and I stressed the importance of concluding this tournament on a positive note. The only way we can do that is by staying focused.

 

“We want to finish our group commitments with a good result against Lithuania but collecting the three points will be a challenging task.”

 

The Malta U-19s have enjoyed a very positive tournament so far. After showing commendable tactical discipline and resilience in a narrow 1-0 defeat to France, who chalked up a 7-0 win over Lithuania in their second match, Muscat’s boys went one better on Saturday as they held Belgium to a 1-1 draw.

 

MENTAL TOUGHNESS


Muscat pointed at the aggressive approach and attitude of his players as the two key factors behind the Malta U-19 team’s commendable performances so far.

 

“The aggressive approach and attitude of the players are the two most positive aspects of our performances in this tournament so far,” Muscat, who took charge of the Malta Under-19 side earlier this year, said.

 

“We have been working hard on these aspects over the last three months. Mental toughness is very important for us in international football and the players stayed strong, even when the going got tough.

 

“We knew that there were going to be periods during the last matches when we had to dig in but we held firm.

 

“Now it’s imperative that we show these qualities against Lithuania because they will be determined to bounce back from their defeats to Belgium and France.

 

“Lithuania may have suffered heavy defeats against Belgium and France, who are very strong, but in both games they tried to play an open game.

 

“They will be going all out to turn these negatives into a positive performance against us whereas we need to maintain the positive things from our last two matches and build on that.”

 

Birkirkara FC goalkeeper Amara Sylla, substituted by Cain Formosa at half-time of the Belgium match due to injury, is recovering well and could be fit to start against Lithuania.

 

Balzan defender Zak Grech is also in line to return after recovering from a dead leg which kept him out of the Belgium match.

 

TOP SPOT


Meanwhile, the opening match at the Centenary Stadium (11.00) on Tuesday is a direct clash for top spot as France, who have a maximum six points, take on second-placed Belgium on four points.

 

The top two in each group advance to join top seeds Portugal and Germany in the elite round draw on 6th December, 2018. The final tournament will be staged in Armenia.

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