The Estonian men's football team face Malta in a crucial Nations League D Group 2 decider on Friday evening at the A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn. The sides last met in June, when Estonia recorded a 2-1 win away from home, thanks to a 94th minute winner from Henri Anier.
Estonia are aiming to finish top of the three-team group, which also contains San Marino, with a win or draw against Malta on Friday good enough to achieve that, while also ensuring qualification to Nations League C for the 2024 competition. In a press conference ahead of the game, Estonia's head coach, Thomas Häberli said, it is important to remember, that Malta also have a chance of finishing top of the group.
"Of course, the aim is first place," said Häberli. "Like always, when we go on to the field, the aim is to win the game. Of course, we know the situation. We know Malta have the opportunity to win (the group) as well," he said.
Häberli has known for a while that he would be without Ragnar Klavan (Paide Linnameeskond), Maksim Paskotši (Tottenham Hotspur), Marco Lukka (Flora Tallinn) and Markus Poom (Flora Tallinn) for Friday's match with Malta, as well as Estonia's final match of this season's Nations League away to San Marino on Monday. However, midfielder Mattias Käit (Rapid Bucharest) and defender Märten Kuusk (Ujpest) have now also been added to the injury list, meaning there may be a chance for some fresh faces to make their mark.
"We have other players, who have to jump in," said Häberli. "We know how we want to play and what is our best style to win games. We have other players that have shpwed they can do it. The youngsters have done a good job, both during previous national team meet-ups and in games for their clubs. Maybe it's too early to tell, but we'll see tomorrow. We have seen some good quality in training," Häberli said.
Estonian defender Joonas Tamm, who plays club football for Romanian side FCSB, expects Friday's match to be extremely competitive.
"It's going to be a very tough game, and it will be important to win the individual battles," said Tamm. "We have to play with confidence and, above all, keep things tight in defense," he added.
The Nations League between Estonia and Malta kicks off at the A le Coq Arena on Friday evening at 7 p.m. Tickets are available here. Estonia's match against Malta will also be shown live on Viaplay here .
Estonia's final match of this year's Nations League campaign against San Marino can be seen here from 9.45 p.m. Estonian time on Monday.
Editor: Michael Cole