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Olsen eyes winning start as Faroes target top spot

Lars Olsen (right) has set sights on picking up three points against Malta, today.

Lars Olsen (right) has set sights on picking up three points against Malta, today.

Faroe Islands coach Lars Olsen has set his sights on picking up the three points against Malta in their UEFA Nations League opener tonight as the Danish coach has made no secret of his ambition of topping League D Group 3.

There is great anticipation among football fans in the small European country for tonight’s qualifier at the Tosvollur Stadium as the Faroe Islands look to open their campaign in style against Malta as they seek to follow in the footsteps of fellow Nordic country Iceland and qualify to the 2020 European Championship.

Olsen is no stranger to completing remarkable feats during his football career as the former Danish international defender skippered his country to their only major international success when winning the 1992 European Championships in Sweden.

Speaking to the media, Olsen said that he is looking forward to get his team’s UEFA Nations League campaign off to a winning start.

“We have been training together since last Monday and all the players seem to be very happy,” Olsen said.

“The UEFA Nations League provides a perfect setting for small countries like us to harbour hopes of playing in major finals. There is great balance between the teams in our group and all matches will be very close. However, if we are to finish top of our group we need to win the match against Malta.”

The Faroe Islands coach said that he was not underestimating the Maltese national team especially after he was in charge of the team that suffered a 3-2 defeat in a friendly at the National Stadium in November 2013.

Since that defeat five years ago, Olsen has kept only eight players in the 23-man squad for today’s match.

“I have a lot of respect towards the Maltese team because I experienced at first hand how dangerous they can be when they lost a friendly in Malta 3-2. Hopefully we can do better than that on Friday,” he said.

“I watched their last five or six matches but since they change their national coach, for me it was important to analyse their last two games to understand their style of play under the new management. Hopefully we have gathered some useful information.

“From what I know they have still have two good players who are still going strong despite their veteran age, midfielder Roderick Briffa and Michael Mifsud so we have to keep an eye on them.”

Asked whether he felt any added pressure to gather all three points against Malta today, Olsen said: “There is always pressure when we are playing at home.

“I’m sure that our fans will turn up in big numbers tomorrow and they will demanding a win against Malta. Hopefully their support will inspire the team to a great performance and we can get all three points.”

On his part, team captain Atli Gregersen said that he was excited to play in the UEFA Nations League which provides them with a great opportunity to play in a major championship.

However, the Vikingur defender said that he was not looking too far ahead and said that it was imperative for his team to enjoy a positive start against Malta.

“Personally, I see the UEFA Nations League as a perfect opportunity for a small country like the Faroe Islands to qualify for the European Championship,” he said.

“But I’m not thinking too far, I’m taking it one game at a time. It’s important to kickstart our campaign with a win and to do that we need to be at our best on Friday.”

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