In a UEFA Under-19 Championship qualifying match that was a victorious throwback to Ira Losco’s 2002 Eurovision performance, Malta’s U-19s beat Lithuania in a match ending 2-1. That wasn’t even the first positive result the boys recently got… but it sure felt like a stark difference from the situation with Malta’s other, main football team.
Following the well-deserved win against Lithuania, the mini-tournament ended with Malta placing in third place. They missed second place by just a one-point difference behind Belgium, nearly qualifying for the UEFA U-19s Championship which will be hosted in Armenia.
Coached by Winston Muscat, Malta’s Under 19 team started the tournament with a narrow 1-0 defeat against France (yes, France). They then went on to draw Belgium 1-1… with yesterday’s 2-1 win against Lithuania closing the tournament off in style.
France were champions of the tournament eight times (not to mention their adult team casually winning this year’s World Cup), while Belgium ended in third position three times in the history of the tournament and won it once (a placement which their adult team echoed this year in Russia). And yet, Malta’s U-19s were able to keep up with them well in each of their matches, only just about not managing to take three points home on two occasions.
While all these positive results were piling in from the U-19s, the Maltese national team ended their commitments in the UEFA Nations League with some very different results
Last night, the Maltese national team drew against the Faroe Islands, whose population is about a tenth of ours (they in fact literally have more sheep than people). Malta also suffered a 5-0 defeat against Kosovo last Saturday and drew with Azerbaijan on the Wednesday before that. As the tournament the adult team was participating in ended on the same day as the Under 19s’, Malta’s national team ended with zero wins and a mere three points.
Of course, the footballing world of the younger teams is a different one and can’t be perfectly compared to the main national teams, but when the results are so different and the results are better against France and Belgium than Azerbaijan and Faroe Islands, you can’t help but think that Malta’s kids might have a thing or two to teach the men.