Malta to play Slovakia in the first competitive fixture of 2017

Tomorrow evening, the Maltese national team led by Pietro Ghedin will be hoping for a positive result as they will be playing Slovakia in what should be a tough match.

Malta's first eleven against Slovenia
Malta's first eleven against Slovenia

The Maltese players need to be at their very best if they are to take something from this match as they will be playing against a national team that improved so much lately.

In fact, the Slovakian team also took part in the UEFA Euro 2016 and made it to the last sixteen were they lost 3-0 to Germnay.

With players such as Marek Hamsik, Martin Skrtel and Juraj Kucka, Slovakia definitely have what it takes to make it through group F.

The team led by Jan Kozak didn’t have the best possible start in the qualifying campaign as they suffered two narrow 1-0 defeats against Slovenia and England. However, these two defeats were followed by two solid wins. They defeated Scotland 3-0 and Lithuania 4-0. They are currently third with six points, two behind Slovenia and four behind England. This scenario indicates that their match against Malta is a must win.

On the other hand, Malta are currently finding it difficult to win points. In fact, they lost their opening four matches. Their last competitive defeat came on the 11th of November when they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Slovenia.

Malta will also be without experienced defender Andrei Agius who is suspended. In addition, Jurgen Pisani of Floriana and Rowen Muscat of Valletta are injured.

This is not the first time that Malta will play Slovakia as both teams played each other six other times. Slovakia won five matches, while the other ended up in a draw.

Slovakia's national team managed to find the net fifteen times against Malta, whereas Malta scored two goals against Slovakia. The last time that these two team met was in a friendly match on the 4th of September 2014. In that match, Slovakia won 1-0.

Despite the odds pointing against Malta, supporters of the national team will be expecting a positive performance from the Maltese players.

The game will be played tomorrow at the National Stadium, kick off at 20:45.

Malta squad

Goalkeepers: Andrew Hogg (Hibernians); Henry Bonello (Birkirkara).

Defenders: Jacob Borg  (Gżira United), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino (Gżira United), Zach Muscat (Arezzo, Italy), Sam Magri (Dover Athletic, England), Ryan Camilleri (Valletta), Joseph Zerafa, Cain Attard (Birkirkara).

Midfielders: Gareth Sciberras (Birkirkara), Bjorn Kristensen (Hibernians), Steve Pisani (Floriana), Luke Gambin (Luton Town, England), Paul Fenech (Balzan), Ryan Fenech (Balzan), Mark Scerri (Sliema Wanderers).

Forwards: Michael Mifsud (Valletta), Andrè Schembri (Boavista, Portugal), Jean Paul Farrugia (Sliema Wanderers), Luke Montebello (Valletta).