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MALTA IN ACTION AGAIN ON MONDAY

Malta will be in action again in the World Cup qualifiers on Monday when they meet Scotland at Hampden Park.

The Maltese go into this match after putting up a good fight at the National Stadium, Ta’ Qali on Friday, holding England off for almost an hour and then keeping the score-line at 1-0 until the closing stages.

Eventually Pietro Ghedin’s men tired though, which culminated in a late flurry of goals and a rather flattering 4-0 win for the Three Lions.

Obviously, Malta are the massive underdogs. They have lost eight of their last nine matches and their 1-0 win in a friendly against Ukraine in June is arguably their best ever result.

The Maltese team tend to play a very defensive style when away from home, and whilst they often succumb to pressure in the end it usually results in a lot of fairly low scoring games.

Besides, Malta have only conceded more than two goals on the road once in the last four years, and with their obvious lack of attacking talent this means that a huge 16 of their last 17 away days have seen fewer than four goals.

For this match Ghedin added to his squad, Balzan Youth’s striker Alfred Effiong, who missed the home defeat to England on Friday through suspension.

The Nigerian-born striker who has replaced defender Ryan Camilleri in the 20-strong selection is the only change in the Malta squad from the England qualifier.

Left-back Joseph Zerafa is expected to recover from the knock that forced him to leave the field in the second half of Friday's qualifier.

Meanwhile Scotland kept their slim hopes of World Cup qualification alive on Friday as they comprehensively beat Lithuania 3-0 away from home, but they’re still up against it as they look to make it to Russia next summer.

Gordon Strachan’s side currently sit third in the group, six points adrift of England at the top and four behind Slovakia in the potential playoff spot of second.

A home match against the second placed side follows this tie with Malta in October, and should Slovakia lose against England on Monday a win in October would move Scotland above the Slovakians.

First they need to make it through Monday’s match though, but they start as favourites to take the three points as they face a low in confidence Malta side, who sit rock bottom of the group with zero points from their seven games so far.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2018
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