Malta head to Hampden for Monday night’s crucial World Cup qualifier with Scotland.
Here is everything you need to know about the Scots’ opponents.
Malta sit 190th in the FIFA world rankings - with only San Marino and Gibraltar rated lower among the European nations. The Mediterranean island side - beaten 4-0 by England on Saturday - have not picked up a single point in their seven Group F matches so far, but one of the two goals they have managed did come against the Scots.
Pietro Ghedin first became a coach with the Italian football association in 1987, leading the country’s Under-18s and becoming the senior national team scout ahead of the World Cup on home soil in 1990. Ghedin served as Italy’s goalkeeping coach at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, while also coaching Malta’s Under-21 and senior teams between 1992 and 1995. He then became Italy’s assistant manager and the women’s head coach in 2005, before leaving in 2012 to return to the Maltese helm.
There’s no doubt that Scotland rode their luck against Malta when they kicked off their campaign with a 5-1 romp last September. Their first goal came when Robert Snodgrass’ deep cross looped into the net, while Chris Martin won a penalty after a non-existent foul. But that does not hide the huge gap in quality that exists between the sides and, with Gordon Strachan’s team desperate for a win, Malta will sit in hoping to limit the damage. That will place an attacking onus on Scotland that they have not always felt comfortable with, but, with no room for error, they cannot afford to let Malta frustrate them.
With Rangers youngster Miles Beerman overlooked for the squad travelling to Glasgow, there are not many recognisable names in the Malta ranks. However, Aberdeen fans will be familiar with André Schembri. The forward netted for Cypriot side Apollon Limassol in the second-leg of the Europa League qualifier against the Dons in August. Michael Mifsud, the most capped Maltese player, counts Coventry City and Barnsley among his former clubs. A few currently play in the English leagues, including Ebbsfleet defender Sam Magri who represented England at youth level and played alongside Manchester City ace Raheem Sterling before pledging his allegiance to Malta. Luton winger Luke Gambin is another of note in the Malta squad.