There are some nations that have dominated European and World football over the years, having long unbeaten streaks in several competitions, yet there are some countries that value even the faintest of wins. One of those nations, are Mediterranean minnows Malta.
Malta has got a reputation throughout the years of being a very football-centred nation, yet the level of football in the country has often been dire and practically disgraceful, for a country that loves the game so much. For several years, Maltese fans have had to endure torrid matches, where the team would be beaten comfortably by other relatively 'weak' sides, such as Kosovo, Luxembourg, and even the Faroe Islands.
Therefore, the 2-1 home win against the Faroe Islands on Saturday was met with great joy throughout the nation, with the Maltese team putting out a very good showing, despite being with ten men for over 30 minutes of the match, after the experienced Andrei Agius was sent off for handling the ball inside the box. The new breed of young blood excited the crowd, as the youngster, Kyrian Nwoko, scored his first international goal in the 13th minute. To make matters even better, once Agius got sent off, Henry Bonello managed to pull of an amazing save to deny Brandur Olsen from scoring from the spot, with the Maltese goalkeeper having a wonderful match throughout. Another young Maltese talent managed to excite the Maltese supporters, as Joseph Mbong took the ball from the Faroe Islands players in his own half, going on a thrilling run, beating three players and consecutively being brought down in the box, awarding a penalty to Malta, which Steve Borg calmly put away.
As expected, this second goal was met with even more celebrations, with the players not being able to contain themselves, jumping all over each other. Whilst the Faroe Islands managed to score very late on in injury time, the Maltese players were relieved when the full-time whistle was blown, and the substitutes and the staff all raced off into the pitch to celebrate with the players and the fans.
To put this into perspective, this was the first competitive home win that Malta managed to get since 2006, when Malta beat Hungary 2-1. This was also Malta's first competitive win since the team managed to beat Armenia 1-0 away from home, back in 2013.
This win was pulled off in a very old-fashioned manner, with plenty of grit and with the Maltese players having their fitness tested to the highest degree. However, the Maltese coach, Ray Farrugia, managed to put plenty of young, inexperienced players in the lineup, and they paid dividends. Whilst Nwoko stole the headlines for his headed goal in the first-half, Mbong was marvellous throughout the whole match. Having been deployed in an unnatural position for him, at left-back, the Hibernians youngster defended bravely, and showed plenty of promise in attack.
The fans were rewarded for their constant support for the national team, with the fans often having to drive back home after suffering a humiliating defeat on several occasions. However, this time everything was different, and it would not have been possible without the fans' support and noise that they made during the whole match, guiding their side to an honourable win.
With Malta having the two previous encounters against the Faroe Islands still fresh in their minds, as they faced them in the UEFA Nations League, suffering a loss, and earning a draw, the nation was determined to get a much-needed win against the fellow European minnows.
However, the next encounter will not be an easy one, as Malta face a top of the table clash against former world champions Spain, with Malta currently in the top spot of the group. On how many days can we say that Malta is on top of the table ahead of Spain? Not a lot if I may recall, but one must cherish these moments greatly, especially if you are from the humble nation of Malta.