Malta secures prestigious draw against Slovenia in spirited Friendly encounter

The Maltese National Team showcases growth and resilience in a 2-2 stalemate with Euro 2024 contender Slovenia

In an exhilarating display of football, Malta and Slovenia ended their friendly match in a 2-2 draw, a result that resonates with significance for the Maltese team. This draw, hailed as both fair and prestigious, marks a historic first for Malta against Slovenia, a team ranked 55th in the FIFA official rankings and gearing up for their participation in the UEFA European Championships next June.

Photos courtesy of Domenic Aquilina / Malta FA

The match at Ta’Qali saw Malta assert themselves early on, creating the first notable opportunity in the eighth minute. A precise cross from Matthew Guillaumier was met by Paul Mbong, whose headed attempt was adeptly saved by Slovenia’s captain and Atletico Madrid’s stalwart goalkeeper, Jan Oblak.

Slovenia’s response came five minutes later, with RB Leipzig’s prolific forward, Banjamin Sesko, attempting to convert a chance that Malta’s goalkeeper, Henry Binello, saved with ease, maintaining the deadlock.

The encounter continued with high intensity, and Slovenia’s persistence paid off in the 28th minute. A misdirected back pass from Malta’s captain, Steve Borg, to goalkeeper Henry Bonello resulted in Andraz Sporar seizing the moment to slot the ball into the net, giving Slovenia the lead.

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Undeterred, Malta showcased their fighting spirit. In the 39th minute, Paul Mbong executed a remarkable solo effort, weaving past a defender to unleash a powerful shot that narrowly missed the target. The Maltese determination bore fruit in the second half when, in a moment of brilliance, captain Matthew Guillaumier equalized with a stunning long-range effort in the 54th minute, breathing new life into the game.

The momentum swung in Malta’s favor just four minutes later when Steve Pisani’s exquisite freekick found the back of the net, overturning the scoreline and amplifying the home crowd’s fervor. However, Slovenia, displaying resilience, equalized in the 81st minute through Benjamin Sesko’s precise strike from the edge of the box, ensuring the match ended in a draw.

This friendly encounter went beyond a mere preparation match for Slovenia ahead of the Euros and served as a testament to Malta’s growing prowess and ambition on the international stage. The Maltese team’s performance against a seasoned European contender illustrates significant progress and promises an exciting path ahead for the nation’s footballing journey.

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