Devis Mangia’s era heralds new hope for Malta national football team

Malta’s national football team ends the year with seven-match unbeaten run as coach Devis Mangia’s 2020 debut brings joy to fans

Malta's national football team had a seven-match unbeaten run at the end of 2020 (Photo: MFA/Domenic Aquilina)
Malta's national football team had a seven-match unbeaten run at the end of 2020 (Photo: MFA/Domenic Aquilina)

Malta ended its international football commitments for 2020 with a seven-match unbeaten run as coach Devis Mangia’s era got off to a good start.

Mangia is the 22nd coach to take charge of the national football team and in his first tournament – the UEFA Nations League – almost gained promotion for Malta.

Malta failed to clinch victory in its last match against the Faroe Islands, which would have seen the country progress to League C next time around.

The string of good results and the new playing mentality brought joy to fans.

Statistics released by the Malta Football Association show that under Mangia’s direction, the national team played eight matches, including two friendlies.

Malta won four games, drew three and lost one. The team scored 13 goals and conceded six.

It ended the year with a record seven-match unbeaten run.

But Mangia’s era also saw the introduction of young players in the national team, which brought down the average age to 25.8 in November from 26.8 in September.

Mangia used 34 players with the youngest to debut in a competitive match being Paul Mbong at the age of 19 years and 1 day against the Faroe Islands in September.

Another young player was Alex Satariano, who was 19 years and 17 days when he played in the friendly match against Liechtenstein in November.

The oldest player in a competitive match was Andrei Agius at the age of 34 years, three months and five days. He played in the match against the Faroe Islands last month.

The oldest player to be fielded in a friendly match was veteran striker Michael Mifsud, who at 39 years, six months and 25 days, played against Liechtenstein to fold up his international career.

Mangia’s good start has raised hopes for a more competitive future for the national football team.

But when the team starts its World Cup 2022 qualifier matches in March, Malta will face tough encounters from strong eastern European teams.

Malta was drawn to play in Group H against Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Croatia and Cyprus. All teams bar Cyprus and Malta made it to the World Cup at one point or another.

The next 12 months will not be an easy ride but football supporters will be watching to see whether the national team’s newfound energy will be maintained.

Malta national football team record under coach Devis Mangia

  • 3 September 2020 v Faroe Islands 2-3 Torsvollur – Torshavn – UEFA Nations League (UNL)
  • 6 September 2020 v Latvia 1-1 – National Stadium - UNL
  • 7 October 2020 v Gibraltar 2-0 – National Stadium – Friendly (F)
  • 10 October 2020 v Andorra 0-0 – Estadi Nacional – Andorra La Vella - UNL
  • 13 October 2020 v Latvia 1-0 – Daugava Stadium – Riga - UNL
  • 11 November 2020 v Liechtenstein 3-0 – National Stadium - F
  • 14 November 2020 v Andorra 3-1 – National Stadium - UNL
  • 17 November 2020 v Faroe Islands 1-1 – National Stadium - UNL

Total

  • Played 8 – Won 4 – Draws 3 – Lost 1 – Goals For 13 – Goals Against 6

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