UEFA Nations League: 'We can obtain points against any team' - Andrei Agius

Veteran defender Andrei Agius insists that Malta can win points against any side during the UEFA Nations League.

Andrei Agius celebrating with team mates after scoring during the World Cup Qualifier against Lithuania. Photo: Christine Borg
Andrei Agius celebrating with team mates after scoring during the World Cup Qualifier against Lithuania. Photo: Christine Borg

Ahead of the encounters against Faroe Islands and Azerbaijan, Agius spoke to MaltaToday regarding various issues related to the National team.

Malta is coming from a draw and a narrow defeat in their previous two matches. In fact, Ray Farrugia’s side held Armenia in a 1-1 draw and suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Georgia. However, apart from the results, Agius stated that those matches helped the players to adapt to Farrugia’s mentality:

“These friendlies for sure helped to adapt to the new mentality that coach Ray Farrugia and his stuff are bringing in the national team. I think that for the Nations League we will keep on building on what we started back in June.”

When looking at the final squad, it is evident that there are a number of senior players like Agius himself together with other players such as Juan Corbalan and Joseph Mbong who are still developing. In relation to this, Agius believes that these youngsters should be aided as they are the future of the national team:

“Fourteen years ago, I was the Mbong myself and the fact I was lucky to find people like Michael Mifsud and Gilbert Agius that always helped us youngsters to break into the first team, now it is my turn to do the same and together with the coaching stuff share my experience and push these youngsters as much as they can because they are the future of Maltese football.”

The first encounters will be against Faroe Islands away from home and Azerbaijan at Ta’ Qali. Faroe Isalnds are currently ranked 90th in the FIFA World Rankings, while Azerbaijan are 105th. On the other hand, Malta are currently 184th. Both sides lie well ahead of us and thus start as favourites to claim points against Malta. However, Agius believes otherwise:

“I believe that in this tight group we can win and lose against any team, it us up to us to stand out and start climbing up the rankings, the time has come, we need to start winning games.” Further to this, the thirty-two year old claimed that “it all relies in our mentality and the way we will approach these games”.

One  problem that the National team is faced with is the lack of goals scored. Moreover, Malta’s forwards in the squad are all over thirty years of age except Jean Paul Farrugia. When asked whether he considers this as a problem, Agius replied that this is something normal in a national team:

“I don’t think so. Other players like Kyrian Nwoko already played for the senior team, so we are very well sorted up front for the future too, it’s just a process which is very normal in a national team.”

Finally, Agius spoke regarding his new contract with Hibernians which will tie him till the 2022. He feels that forming part of the Paolites was what he always wanted from the day he came back to Malta following his experiences abroad:

“It was what I wanted from day one when I came back to Malta, end my career with my hometown and win as much trophies. I think I am on the right track on both. In football anything can happen but I thank once again the club especially Mr Tony Bezzina and his son Rannier for keeping faith in my capabilities.”

Malta will debut in the Nations League against Faroe Islands on Friday 7th September. Three days later, the national team will face Azerbaijan at Ta’ Qali.