It’s not getting any better for the Maltese football team. Fans were cautiously optimistic about the team’s chances in the UEFA Nations League, a new tournament which pits similarly ranked teams against each other.
However, by the looks of their first game, it is only going to lead to more soul-searching.
Malta, with a population of over 430,000, lost 3-1 away against the Faroe Islands – a tiny archipelago whose human population of 50,000 is outnumbered by its sheep population of 70,000.
And yet, like Iceland, the Faroe Islands has shown the football world is certainly possible for small nations to punch above their weight. They finished in fourth place out of six in the 2018 World Cup qualification, acquiring nine points in the process, in sharp contrast to Malta who finished last with a single point.
And the Faroese team displayed its superiority tonight, with Joan Edmundsson and Rene Joensen scoring within seven minutes of each other, before 37 year-old striker Michael Mifsud gave Malta hope a few minutes later. However, any hope of a Maltese comeback was lost after Hallur Hansson struck home a few minutes into the second half.
Malta’s UEFA Nations League group also includes Azerbaijan and Kosovo, both of whom must be licking their lips after tonight’s performance.