National Teams

U19's deservedly beat Albania in second friendly

Published: 26-03-2023 13:37
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26.03.2023, Tony Bezzina Stadium

(HT 1-1)

1-0 Bridgman 7, 1-1 Elezaj 42, 2-1 Xerri 80.

This morning, the Malta Under-19 team played their second Friendly against the counterparts of Albania, a match played at the Tony Bezzina Stadium. Last Thursday, the first one was played at the Gozo Stadium, with the visitors beating the locals 2-0. This time however, Malta beat Albania 2-1, a much deserved victory for our U19s, who worked hard and showed great tactical discipline throughout the match.

When compared with the first match, coach Antonio Jose Mendes ‘Toze’ made three changes in the starting line-up. Midfielder Bjorn Buhagiar, striker Nathan Cross and Italy based Lucas Caruana (Sampdoria) replaced Lucas Scicluna and Gzira duo Andrew and Brooklyn Borg. The last three entered as substitutions in the second half.

Malta took an early seventh minute lead when a Lucas Caruana free-kick from the right wing was rounded off by Alfie Bridgman from close-range. Ten minutes later, goalkeeper Luca Camilleri did well to save Hoffenheim's Adijat Seferi's attempt, the visitors’ first goal scoring opportunity. On 23 minutes on the other side, with only Albanian goalkeeper Elliot Krasniqi to beat, Nathan Cross was inches away of connecting to a through-pass, which could have easily been Malta’s second goal. Although the Albanians had a slight upper-hand, the Malta team kept the visitors at bay. However, on 42 minutes, a grounder by Gent Elezaj had the better of Camilleri and therefore scoring the equaliser for the visitors.

The match continued to be a balanced affair after the break, with initially very little goalmouth action. Substitute Luca Scicluna’s grounder from the edge of the area after another neat Malta build up on 67 minutes was saved by Krasniqi, as the Tottenham Hotspurs goalkeeper continued to show his class. Eight minutes later, Sven Xerri did well to block a Samuele Kasa attempt, which was the visitors’ first real opportunity after the break. On 80 minutes, Malta scored the winner from another set-piece. Defender Xerri rose high from a Scicluna corner, a great goal, signing for a deserved victory.

Now that the Euro U19 Final Tournament is fast approaching, the two matches against Albania have proven to be another very satisfying test for the squad. The strength of the Albanians, with many players plying their trade abroad, is not to be underestimated but the Malta team clearly showed they are on the right track, not only showing they can compete, but even dictate the run of play.  

Malta will continue to play a Friendlies each month before the Final Tournament starts in July.

Luca Camilleri, Braden Flannery, Jake Micallef, Jake Vassallo, Zven Xerri, Benjamin Hili (Matteo Gambin 59), Lucas Caruana (Zak Barbara 77), Bjorn Buhagiar (Andrew Borg 77), Tristan Viviani (Lucas Scicluna 66), Nathan Cross (Brooklyn Borg 77), Alfie Bridgman (Sean Gatt 59).
Coach: Antonio Jose Mendes ‘Toze’

Elliot Krasniqi, Arlind Kurti, Elton Fikaj, Ervin Bashi, Ardit Nuredini (Ermal Meta 77), Orgito Ruci (Endi Shulku 83), Erald Krasniqi (Skerdi Xhixho 61), Gent Elezaj (Franc Rabeta 83), Adijat Seferi (Ersi Zaganjori 61), Lorent Talla (Smail Kadrijaj 61), Samuele Kasa (Andi Gjoka 83)
Coach: Armando Cungu

Referee: Ishmael Barbara (Malta)

Images copyright Stephen Gatt