How did the matches go?
Looking at the group that Malta was in (Group D), we had high chances of making it out of the group stage and the next phase. Group D consisted of the following countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, and Northern Ireland. Christian and Gianluca started their first day of the event against Bulgaria, in which they won 4-1. This was a bit of an interesting match-up, as Turbuleense played against his former teammate, Sanchez.
They then played against Romania and only managed to get a tie, achieving 3 points in total. Their match against the Czech Republic followed, and just as the one prior, Malta could only get 3 points. For their final match of Day 1, Spiteri and Turbuleense took on the most difficult opponent of the group, Germany. Unfortunately, Germany took the win, scoring 2 in the first leg and 4 in the second. By the end of this first day, Malta was tied with Bulgaria and Romania in 3rd-5th place.
Malta’s next opponents were Luxembourg and Northern Ireland. In the match versus Luxembourg, Malta could only manage to get a tie. And in the second match against Northern Ireland, we felt the crushing defeat we had felt against Germany. With this tie and loss, Malta was only awarded 2 points. This meant that it was insufficient for a qualification spot, and just like that, Malta was eliminated from the FIFAe Nations Cup.
We reached out to Gianluca to get a bit more insight on how it felt to represent our country in such a prestigious competition:
You and Christian are some of the best players on the island. How does it feel to have played alongside him during this event?
I feel honoured to have played for my country in such a massive event like the eNations cup. I also feel very honoured to have played with Christian Spiteri, the best player in Malta. It was an amazing experience, and I learned immensely from the games we played together. I got the opportunity to see how Chris prepares for these qualifiers and big events, and I will be implementing this heading into the next season.
What have you learned by participating in the FIFAe Nations Cup?
The FIFA eNations Cup is one of the biggest FIFA events hosted every year. And as you might expect, the games are twice as difficult as the normal qualifier games. This is because you represent your country at an international event, and the players will give their very best in each game, even if they are knocked out from the tournament.
What went on during the second day of competition?
Going into Day 2, we sat in a qualifying spot, and we had to play vs Luxembourg. Keep in mind that if we won both games, we would qualify for the knockout stages. Chris kicked off his game on Playstation and played against Ivanilson, who the day before had 4 wins from 4 games. We knew beforehand that this match would not be easy, as multiple videos were being spread on Twitter about him skilling and winning each game seamlessly.
Chris started the match with a goal of his own, and then when the second half began, Ivanilson scored from kick-off, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. In the second leg, I took on Ciscinho. I was 2-0 up until the 65th minute, but then he scored to make it 2-1. In the 83rd minute, I created a perfect chance with R9, one of the most expensive and strongest players in the game. And despite him having some of the best statistics, he still missed an easy 1v1 to make it 3-1. If that opportunity went my way, it would have been an easy game to finish off as my opponent would not have enough time to come back. My opponent equalised in the 90th minute even though the referee had the chance to blow the whistle twice, so we ended 2-2.
Going into the last round vs Northern Ireland, we needed 2 wins from 2 games. Unfortunately, our connection during these matches wasn’t very good, as we played on a single bar and 3 seconds of delay. Despite the unfair circumstances we were in, we still managed to create chances and opportunities, but in the end, it was very evident that we could not play our game, and we both lost 2-1.
Any final thoughts on the event?
After the tournament concluded, Christian and myself both felt disappointed. Deep down, we knew that we’re able to qualify for the main event. Unfortunately, we are playing FIFA, and sometimes luck is not always on our side. We also had to do everything ourselves compared to other countries. They had mental coaches sitting beside them, and we had no one. We had to analyze our games together in the morning and somehow find practice before our tournament matches. This made us tilt easily because we wasted energy doing things that someone else could have done for us.
Gianluca “Turbuleense” Sant, Maltese FIFA Player
Malta eliminated from FIFAe Nations Cup – Concluding thoughts
Christian and Gianluca played valiantly, and their final loss was surely undeserving. Despite their early elimination from the FIFAe Nations Cup, they have both learned a lot and will certainly implement different mentalities heading into next year’s edition.