Malta looked sharp, synergistic and most importantly, confident in their abilities during its UEFA Nations League matchup last night, quelling any doubts that the team has a bright future ahead of them.
But one question remains – was Malta robbed of a win against the Faroe Islands?
In his closing remarks at the post-game press conference, head coach Devis Mangia made it clear that he was unhappy with the officiating throughout the game which, on more than one occasion, cost Malta the win and its rightful place in League C in the next Nations League.
“I already said something about the referee, I think it’s best I don’t say anything else. You can make the evaluation yourself,” he said.
“Someone mentioned that there were two or three situations that weren’t good, but that’s how it is.”
If we had to take a guess, one of those questionable situations was an offside call that robbed Luke Gambin of a goal.
After numerous replays, it’s hard to see how the assistant referee could have called that an offside on the spot – either he has eagle eyes or that is not offside – and I’m with the latter.
The second situation concerned late substitution Kyrian Nwoko who was denied a penalty in the 88th minute after he was mounted by a Faroese attempting to intercept a cross inside the box.
Nwoko fell to the ground, visibly shaken by the incident, while players and coaches can be heard shouting in protest from the bleachers. To the opponents’ avail, a penalty wasn’t awarded and the Faroese held onto a 1-1 draw which secured their place as winners of the group.
With those two stolen opportunities, Malta could have gone up 3-1 which would have been more than enough points to elevate them to first place in League D, Group 1 and earn them a promotion into League C for the upcoming 2022 Nations League competition.
However, despite all of this, there is a silver lining for the national side who have now set the record for the longest undefeated run in local football history.
Moreover, Malta ended up in second place in its group which is a major improvement from its last Nations League showing, where the team came in dead last.
All we ask is for more competent referees next time round.