Updated | Malta needs to win against Faroe Islands in most important football game ever

Malta plays the Faroe Islands behind closed doors at Ta’ Qali National Stadium on Tuesday in what is the most important football match ever for the national team • Coach Devis Mangia says motivation is 'more than 100%'

Malta lost 3-2 against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn last September after it conceded two goals in the dying minutes of the game. (Photo: MFA/Facebook)
Malta lost 3-2 against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn last September after it conceded two goals in the dying minutes of the game. (Photo: MFA/Facebook)

Updated at 3:35pm with press conference comments from coach and team captain

Malta will need to beat the Faroe Islands on Tuesday at the National Stadium in Ta’ Qali to be promoted from League D in the UEFA Nations League.

The crunch match will decide which team wins Group 1 and nothing but victory will suffice for Malta to reach the Faroese in the top spot on level points.

If Malta wins, the two countries will end up with 11 points each. A minimal 1-0 victory should be enough to see Malta through.

According to the competition rules the direct matches between Malta and the Faroe Islands will be taken into consideration to determine who is declared Group 1 winner.

Malta lost the away match in Torshavn 3-2 last September.

The rules apply a set of criteria to determine the rankings in the eventuality of a tie in points.

The first determining criteria is the number of points the teams gained against each other, which in this case is not applicable because both teams would have won a match each.

The second criteria takes into consideration the goal difference from the two matches played against each other.

This will depend on the result but any Malta victory with a one-goal margin will leave both teams with the same goal difference. But if Malta beats the Faroe Islands by a two-goal margin or higher, it will secure the top spot.

If the one-goal margin persists, the next criteria considers the higher number of goals scored in the two encounters.

Given the circumstances, a one-goal margin will leave both teams tied and the outcome would have to be decided by the fourth criteria – the higher number of away goals.

Malta scored two goals away against the Faroes, so even a 2-1 victory would suffice for Malta to be declared group winner.

If the match ends with a 3-2 victory for Malta, leaving both teams in a perfect tie at the top of the group, different permutations kick in and the above criteria will be applied for the rest of the group matches.

However, in any case, Malta cannot afford any slip-ups as happened in the away encounter when Malta was leading 2-1 until the 88 minute, only to concede two quick goals in the dying minutes of the game.

Malta has had a good run in this year’s UEFA Nations League competition, collecting eight points – the highest number of points ever achieved in a group.

After the debacle in Torshavn, the team drew 1-1 against Latvia at Ta’ Qali and drew 0-0 against Andorra in Andorra La Vella.

Malta then beat Latvia 1-0 away and last week secured a 3-1 victory against Andorra at home.

The team is three points behind the Faroe Islands. Malta scored seven goals and conceded five.

History against Malta

When they enter the pitch tomorrow night, the Maltese players know that history is not on their side despite the Faroe Islands only having a population of around 50,000.

Statistics show that from the nine games against the Faroe Islands, the national team only won twice and drew another time. Malta scored 13 goals and conceded 18. The Faroese have six victories to boast about. 

But past performance is no guarantee for the future and a Maltese victory on Tuesday will mean more than any other match played so far in the history of Maltese football.

Players' motivation running high

Malta coach Devis Mangia said his players' motivation was "more than 100%", during a press conference held at Malta Football Association headquarters in Ta' Qali.

"I want that my players enter the pitch with the appetite to win this game. But I also want people to be proud of what they have achieved so far... their motivation is more than 100% and we have to be clever during the game," Mangia said, acknowledging the high expectations for this game.

Malta captain Andre Agius said the squad was determined to deliver the result everyone was expecting. "We will do our best to win this game," he said.

Malta plays the Faroe Islands at 8:45pm on Tuesday, 17 November. The match will be shown live on TVM 2 with commentary by Mark Attard and Vince Carbonaro.