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Watch: Farrugia wants his players to enjoy themselves against Faroes

Zach Muscat gives his thoughts on tonight's qualifier

Malta coach Ray Farrugia has told his players to ignore the pre-match pressure and try to enjoy themselves as the national team makes its debut in the newly-launched UEFA Nations League against the Faroe Islands, in Torshavn (kick-off: 8.45pm).

Drawn against same calibre teams in League D Group 3, which includes Azerbaijan and Kosovo, the national team have a great opportunity to put behind them previous heartaches in international competition and gain some much needed positive results to restore some lost pride over the years.

Speaking to the media at the Tosvollur Stadium, Farrugia said that he can’t wait to lead his team from the dug-out today and he said that he is confident that his players can put on a positive showing.

“We are all looking forward to the start of this new challenge,” Farrugia said.

“The players look well prepared and are very motivated to produce a strong performance and hopefully start our campaign on a good note.

“The UEFA Nations League is an interesting competition for the small countries as it gives us the opportunity to try and qualify for major competitions. This is an opportunity not to be missed and since in football anything can happen we have a chance like everyone else to reach unprecedented heights. But to do that you have to be well prepared and I feel that we’re ready for this challenge.”

Farrugia has heaped praise on the huge progress registered by the Faroe Islands over the last few years which saw them soar to 90th in the FIFA rankings.

Malta, on the other hand, came into the UEFA Nations League campaign with a poor track record on the international scene with only five wins in competitive matches since we started taking part in UEFA and FIFA tournaments.

Still, Farrugia said this competition provides a good chance to turn on a new page and encouraged his players took take the pitch tonight relaxed and trying to enjoy themselves on the pitch.

“We have a good blend of experienced and youth players available and since I took over five months ago I emphasised on trying to approach international competition with a new mindset,” Farrugia, who has no selection problems, said.

“They need to be more relaxed and enjoy themselves playing the game they love so much. At the end of the day it’s only a football match and if they give their  there is a good chance of securing a positive result.”

On his part, skipper Michael Mifsud said that all the players are determined to open the Nations League campaign with a win.

“We’re raring to go,” Malta’s all-time leading scorer said.

“Each time we take the pitch our goal is to take the three points and against the Faroe Islands it will be no different. We feel that we have prepared well for the match and for us this is a great opportunity to make a statement of our ability and I can assure everyone that all the players will play their hearts out to return home with the right result.”

On his part, Joseph Mbong, who is likely to make his competitive debut for Malta tonight, said that he is really excited to represent Malta at senior level.

“We came here with a very good crop of talented players and I have no doubt that if the players follow the instructions of our coach I’m sure we can kick off our campaign on a bright note,” the Hibs wingback said.

“Personally, I’m really excited to be part of the national team but the senior members of the squad have helped me a lot to settle in and that will make it easier for me to give my 100 per cent.”

Malta formation

(Probable) A. Hogg, S. Borg, A. Agius, Z. Muscat, J. Mbong, J. Zerafa, R. Muscat, P. Fenech, A. Effiong, M. Mifsud, A. Schembri.

Referee: Ville Nevalainen (Finland).

PAST ENCOUNTERS

World Cup qualifiers

30.4.1997 Malta vs Faroes   1-2

8.6.1997 Faroes vs Malta     2-1

International friendlies

18.8.2004 Faroes vs Malta   3-2

19.11.2014 Malta vs Faroes 3-2

Malta players training in the Faroe Islands ahead of tonight's Nations League opener. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar/MFAMalta players training in the Faroe Islands ahead of tonight's Nations League opener. Photo: Paul Zammit Cutajar/MFA

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