Malta’s football team recovered from its recent humiliating loss against the Faroe Islands to earn a respectable 1-1 draw at home to Azerbaijan.
With 79 places separating the two teams, Azerbaijan would have been hoping for a walk in the park at Ta’ Qali, particularly after Malta’s loss last weekend.
However, things didn’t go according to script. Defender Andre Agius brought the home fans to their feet when he converted a penalty in the 10th minute. Tamlkin Khalizade equalised for Azerbaijan 16 minutes later, but any fears of a Maltese capitulation were misplaced as the national team managed to see out the game.
Malta manager Ray ‘Zazu’ Farrugia praised his team’s performance at the end of the game but warned against any sort of complacency setting in.
Malta manager Ray Farrugia speaks to TVM Sport after the game
“We have a lot of work to do and must rebuild from the ground up,” he said. “I once again urge the Maltese people to unite behind the team, even when we are down, because if we stand strong together then we will surely rise.”
He also praised the 4000 or so Malta fans who turned up to watch the game live, describing them as the national team’s “true fans” in contrast to “armchair critics”.
“Everyone’s a bravu when things are going fine, but the real fans are the ones who come down here to support us even when things are going wrong.”