Ghedin backs Malta to make amends for late England collapse

The manner of Malta’s 4-0 defeat to England last Friday still rankles with Pietro Ghedin, but the national coach is backing his players to deliver a bold response in the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Hampden Park on Monday (20.45 – Malta time).

3 September 2017, 11:03pm
Maltese players preparing for tomorrow's match against Scotland. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar
Maltese players preparing for tomorrow's match against Scotland. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar
Three goals in the last five minutes tarnished an otherwise resolute performance for Malta on Friday as England struggled to break down our team before that late flourish.

“We will try to do better,” Ghedin told reporters at the pre-match news conference at Hampden Park.

“Of course, we need to discard the bad performance in the last 20 minutes of our game against England.

“It depends on our condition... if we are in good condition, we can do well, if not we will encounter problems.

“I trust my players. I spoke with them and they want to get back on the pitch in good shape and with the right attitude to give as much as they can.”

Ghedin is readying his players for another gruelling encounter as an emphatic 3-0 win in Lithuania on Friday kept Scotland in the hunt for second spot in Group F.

“It will be another good but difficult match as Scotland are challenging for the runner-up position in Group F of the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign,” Ghedin said.

“They (Scotland) played really well in the last three games. They improved a lot and changed many players."

“Scotland deserve to be on this run. I would like to stop their run tomorrow (Monday) but it will not be easy.”

Asked if the performance against England has reinforced his conviction that Malta can cause a shock at Hampden Park, Ghedin replied: "Every time I wish to take a point but it’s not easy.

“We are a small country and Scotland in this moment are in good form.

“I watched their last game against Lithuania, they deserved to win and could have scored five goals. They are a strong and have a good chance of achieving second place in this group.

“From our side, we try to give our best in every game. We are compact, we have good players but we are not professional.

“We need to spend more time together to work to improve the team.

But I’m really happy about my players, they have done a lot for us but we also need more luck.”

Balzan's striker Alfred Effiong is back in the frame for Malta after serving a one-match in the England defeat.

Joseph Zerafa, the Valletta left-back, went off with an ankle knock in the second half of Friday’s game but he is expected to recover in time to face Scotland.

The weather in Glasgow is cool and wet with the Maltese squad having to cope with driving rain during their training session at Hampden Park on Sunday evening.

Malta are still without a point after seven qualifiers while Scotland are sharing second place with Slovenia on 11 points, six behind leaders England and four down on Slovakia.