Maltese football players need a “change in mentality”, according to the new national coach, who spoke to Lovin Malta in an exclusive interview in which he rejected questions about sports corruption.
Ray ‘Zazu’ Farrugia said he didn’t see previous coach’s Tom Saintfiet‘s departure coming, and hasn’t spoken to the players about the loss of Malta’s national coach. However, Farrugia said that the ousted ex-Maltese coach had asked him to grab a bite to eat sometime soon.
Saying he was “emotional, happy, and very proud” to become the national coach, he now looked towards “doing his homework” and performing well in an upcoming training session in Austria.
He also called on Maltese players to change they way they see football.
“One thing that definitely needs to be done is to change the attitude and change the mentality of the players. Once we change that, and we pull the same rope, I think we can do some good things,” he said.
However, he was less receptive to allegations of corruption and match-fixing in Maltese football, even if top players like Andre Schembri brought it up.
“Rumours are rumours you know, there’s a lot of rumours in everything in life, not only football or tennis, in everything. But you don’t rely on rumours – I can say anything, but you don’t need to believe me,” he said.
Coach Farrugia called for evidence when it came to claims of match fixing in Malta, before Malta Football Association aides attempted to steer the conversation away from “negative” topics (skip to 03:01 in the video above).
“It’s nothing to do with me,” the new football coach for the Maltese national team said of corruption in Maltese football.
The 62-year-old has served as national team assistant coach since 2014. He’s worked with a number of recent Maltese national coaches, including Josif Ilic, Pietro Ghedin, and Tom Saintfiet.
Farrugia is a well-known footballer himself, having played for the Melita Eagles in Australia for 12 years, and is a beloved footballer in his hometown of Floriana.
He’s assisted Maltese teams for many years, and even coached the Malta Under-21s on two separate occasions.
The MFA said they appointed him in the hopes that he will stabilise the team: “The stability of our national team is our top priority and to this end, we are confident that Ray Farrugia has the ability and experience to fulfil this role in the best possible manner.”
He now prepares the team for a training camp in Austria as well as friendly matches against Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova in May and June.