National Teams

Narrow defeat for Malta against Irish

Published: 20-11-2022 22:08

20th November 2022, National Stadium, Ta’ Qali,

(HT 0-0)

0-1 Callum Robinson 55.

The Maltese national eleven had to swallow a narrow defeat against a plucky Republic of Ireland side this evening, who were the better team on the night, but without creating many goalscoring opportunities. The decisive goal came from a Maltese defensive error early in the second half. The match was most definitely less exciting than the one against Greece last Thursday (2-2), but was another useful test for the Maltese side ahead of the European Championship qualifiers which will start next year March with an away match against North Macedonia.

Compared with the Greece friendly, national team coach Gilbert Agius changed his team on four positions. Ferdinando Apap was deployed in defence instead of Steve Borg while in midfield, Bjorn Kristensen was preferred instead of Paul Mbong. Up front, Alex Satariano and Jodi Jones started instead of Jurgen Degabriele and Shaun Dimech. Kristensen had to leave the pitch injured after only 20 minutes, being replaced by Dunstan Vella.

The match lacked goalmouth action, both sides created very few chances with the compliments to both rear-guards. After the Irish goal, Malta started to be more adventurous, but overall the Irish managed to hold on to their slender lead without problems.

The visitors dictated play during the opening half, but failed to create any danger in the Maltese box with Henry Bonello in excellent shape. The first real goalscoring opportunity of the match was however for Malta through Jones, but his grounder from the edge of the area was too weak to trouble Caoimhin Kelleher. Four minutes later, Joseph Mbong’s shot from just outside the box sailed over the crossbar. Around the half hour mark, a Jamie McGrath scorcher missed target by an inch, while on 42 minutes, Alan Browne came close from close-range after a neat attack, which was practically the best chance the Irish had before the break.

The Irish guests scored the only goal of this Friendly encounter on 55 minutes. A backpass towards Bonello by Matthew Guillaumier was intercepted by Callum Robinson, who had the easiest of tasks to place the ball into the empty net. This event spurred the home-side forward, but were less successful in terms of creating goalscoring opportunities. On 67 minutes, Joseph Mbong had a powerful run on the right before passing to Steve Pisani, who’s angled shot was saved by Kelleher. Eventually, Malta escaped to concede a second goal on 87 minutes when Calum O’Dowda hit the post for the visitors after being sent through on the left.

The match closed down another eventful international year for the Maltese national team. Malta played ten matches and won five, drew one and lost four, obtaining prestigious results against higher ranked teams like Israel (2-1), Kuwait (2-0), Azerbaijan (1-0) and Greece (2-2), besides beating San Marino twice.

Henry Bonello, Jean Borg, Enrico Pepe, Ferdinando Apap (Kurt Shaw 72), Ryan Camenzuli, Joseph Mbong, Matthew Guillaumier, Teddy Teuma (Kyrian Nwoko 88), Bjorn Kristensen (Dunstan Vella 20, Steve Pisani 52), Jodi Jones (Luke Gambin 66), Alex Satariano (Luke Montebello 72)
Coach: Gilbert Agius

Rep. Ireland
Caoimhin Kelleher, James McClean (Callum O’Dowda 66), Seamus Coleman, Matt Doherty, John Egan, Josh Cullen, Alan Browne (Jeff Hendrick 66), Jamie McGrath, Nathan Collins, Chiedozie Ogbene (Evan Ferguson 76), Callum Robinson (Mark Sykes 86).
Coach: Stephen Kenny

Referee: Chrysovalantis Theouli (Cyprus)

Images copyright by Domenic Aquilina/MFA