As the anticipation builds for tonight’s European Qualifier between Malta and North Macedonia at the National Stadium, the spotlight turned to the pre-match press conference where National Teams head coach Michele Marcolini and player Zach Muscat shared their thoughts on the match and the state of their team.
Marcolini on the Challenge of Assessing Opponents
Michele Marcolini kicked off the press conference by addressing the challenging task of assessing the strength of their opponents in Group C. “Finding the weakest team in the group is very difficult,” he admitted. Indeed, in international football, underestimating any team can lead to unexpected outcomes.
Marcolini recognized that North Macedonia has faced its share of difficulties, especially following a tough loss to England with a score of 7-0. However, he emphasized that they have shown resilience and improvement. “Even individually, they are better; they have quality and strength,” Marcolini noted. His comments highlighted the importance of not underestimating any team and recognizing their potential.
The Maltese coach also emphasized his team’s commitment to competitive play. “We always try to create problems, and except in the game against England, we have always done our best and hope to score/win or draw,” he stated. He cited Malta’s recent match against Gibraltar as an example where they had numerous chances to score and enjoyed a significant share of possession.
Marcolini talked about the teams’ ability to adapt and overcome challenges, especially given the unique circumstances of this international window. He mentioned that going into this window without playing any matches beforehand was not ideal but praised his team’s resilience. “However, we were good. Recovery was tougher, and the players took longer to recover,” he said. Fortunately, they played an international friendly six days before the North Macedonia clash, which allowed for better preparation.
Muscat Stresses Teamwork and Comradery
Zach Muscat, added his perspective, highlighting the importance of teamwork and comradery within the squad. He emphasized that the bond among the players, both those based abroad and at home, sets Malta apart. “We are a small island, and many have known each other for ages, and despite playing abroad, we keep contact, unlike the other teams,” Muscat explained. This sense of camaraderie, he believes, might be the missing link in other national teams.
Muscat concluded by stressing the importance of unity on the pitch and the significance of following tactical instructions. “We go on the pitch as a family, and together with tactical information, we must focus on this to bridge the gap where the other qualities fail us,” he asserted. This unity and adherence to the game plan are vital elements that Malta will rely on as they face North Macedonia in a crucial fixture.
Photos: Domenic Aquilina