Malta Football Association
Vella pursuing brave performance in Finland qualifier
Oct 9, 2019
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The third UEFA Under-21 Championship Group 8 qualifier is beckoning for the Malta Under-21 team who meet Finland at the Veritas Stadium in Turku on Thursday at 6pm Malta time.

Coach Silvio Vella is eyeing a gutsy performance from the boys with the mood in the Malta U-21 camp positive despite this stern test coming up. This upbeat atmosphere in Finland will hopefully lead to a fine performance against this quality side who possess some strong and physical football players.


The Maltese youngsters will also be aiming to bounce back from their 4-0 defeat to Ukraine having started their campaign with a positive 0-0 draw away to Norther Ireland.


“We always try our best to overcome setbacks," Vella said.


"I must admit that we were all very disappointed after the Ukraine match last month but in the short period of time we spent together prior to Thursday’s match, I emphasised with the boys that, at this level, certain mistakes are unacceptable as we get punished straight away."


On MD-1 on Wednesday, the team had a training session in the morning focusing once again on tactics prior to the official session at the match stadium later today.


“This group of players always give their 100 per cent in each and every game and for the 90 minutes coming up, I will stress the same message i.e. to stay compact, tactically disciplined, and avoid stupid mistakes.



“We know very well that Group 8 is very tough. Finland have started brightly, winning away to Ukraine before claiming a positive draw against Northern Ireland. At the moment they are leading the standings with four points and will be looking to increase their tally with a win against us”.



This Finland away game comes exactly a year after the terrific win for the Malta Under-21 team, beating Hungary 2-1 at home to claim first points in the previous competition.


“This has been a long year for this team," Vella said.  "It’s an on-going process of developing players and propel them to the national senior squad. We all want to get positive results, avoid defeats and get points on the board but our ultimate aim is to prepare these players for the next step in their career.


“Over the past 12 months we've had the opportunity to prepare our squad for this new competition just started. The Turkey training camp in March with friendlies against Turkmenistan and Kosovo, and the home 0-0 draw prior to summer against Bosnia have all been positive.


“It’s always our duty to keep a close eye on our squad members when they are on club duties. These players are monitored all the time, not just during an international week but also domestically with data analysis and performance statistics and naturally we would love to see more young players getting regular first-team action at club level.”



“Players like Matthew Guillaumier (injured) and now Kurt Shaw (who is with the senior squad) are always missed. We wish them the very best of luck because as I said before, our aim to see players grow and make the next step to the national team."


The progress of some players and their promotion to the national squad meant a first international call-up at U-21 level for defender Dejan Debono and midfield players Shaun Dimech and Nick Pisani.


“Dejan and Shaun have been with me at U-17 level, so I already have an idea of their true potential," Vella added.


"They are also having a good season domestically, Dejan played for Senglea in their latest game, the 0-0 draw against Santa Lucia, Shaun has been doing well so far this season with a quality side like Valletta. 


"Despite the competition for places, Nicholas Pisani has done well to earn this call-up and be part of the squad. This experience will definitely benefit him in the course of his football development.”

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