Malta Football Association
Sights on Tuesday as Ukraine test beckons for U-21 team
Sep 8, 2019
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On Sunday afternoon, the Malta Under-21 squad is due to arrive at its ultimate destination as the team is undertaking this long journey to Ukraine ahead of Tuesday's UEFA U-21 Championship Group 8 qualifier at the Slavutich - Arena Stadium in Zaporizhya.

The contingent left Ireland on Saturday afternoon with an overnight stay in Turkey before resuming its journey to Ukraine.


Following a gallant performance and a deserved goalless draw at the Ballymena Showgrounds against Northern Ireland on Friday, spirits are high among the players who are already focusing on yet another tough challenge ahead on Tuesday at 17.30h (Malta time).


On Friday, the team fought relentlessly throughout the 90 minutes, keeping its tactical shape. Notwithstanding the amount of possession for our opponents, the Maltese players not only kept their opponents at bay but had opportunities to drive forward, forging some good chances.


Sliema Wanderers’ Kurt Shaw came close with a towering header in the first half, prompting a fine save from the Irish keeper. Towards the end of the match, a fast counter-attack saw Aidan Friggieri receiving the ball at the edge of the box but his angled shot was blocked by the goalkeeper.


Now the focus is on Tuesday's match - yet another daunting 90 minutes coming up against a wounded Ukraine side after their 2-0 defeat at home on Friday against Finland.


A clear demonstration of Ukraine's strength is highlighted by the fact that they were recently crowned FIFA Under-20 World champions following a 3-1 final win over South Korea only three months ago – over half of that successful title-winning squad last June in Poland are part of their U-21 squad for the Malta game in two days' time.


The Malta U-21 coach must be feeling positive with the preparation and commitment of his players during this international break, qualities that were reflected in the team's collective performance in Northern Ireland.


On Friday Silvio Vella made use of three substitutes in the game in Ballymena despite recent changes in the laws of the game with teams in this new UEFA Under-21 competition just kicked off handed the possibility to use more players during a match with the introduction of three slots for substitutions and the possibility of a maximum five changes over the 90 minutes of play.


Meanwhile, Friday’s performance augurs well for the remainder of this qualifying campaign with the Malta U-21s showing great team work with Mosta keeper Andreas Vella outstanding in goal, making a brilliant and crucial save at the death, Valletta defender Jean Borg was solid at the back and composed on the ball, on his side Kurt Shaw is always improving and swiftly cementing his commanding role in front of the back four for this Malta Under21 Team.

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