Our prediction for this World Cup 2022 match:
Cyprus will be looking to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to Croatia when they take on Malta at AEK Arena on Monday evening. The Cypriotes have been struggling in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, with the team collecting only four points from possible 21. Nikolaos Kostenoglou’s troops, though, will not have a better chance than this to return to winning ways. Midfielder Kostakis Artymatas is banned for the match due to the accumulation of yellow cards.
Malta, on the other hand, experienced all sorts of problems at the back in a 4-0 loss to Slovenia. Since the minnows are on a three-game losing run in Group H, we are tempted to put our money on Cyprus, who are eager to get back on course. The bad news for the visitors is that pacey forward Joseph Mong will have to serve his one-game ban against Cyprus.
Highlighted Player (Georgios Efrem):
Born in Limassol, Cyprus on 5 July, 1989 Georgios Efrem played for his hometown club Apollon Limassol during his youth career, but in 2004 he joined Premier League club Arsenal at the age of 15. In 2007 he moved to Rangers, but he didn’t see any game action with the Gers at senior level.
The pacey winger, who is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder as well, returned to Cyprus in 2009, signing a deal with Omonia. After scoring 25 goals in 134 league appearances for the club, the 171-cm-tall footballer joined fellow Cypriot outfit APOEL on 6 June, 2014. Efrem made his debut for the club against Helsinki on 30 July, 2014 in the Europa League qualifying match.
It has to be noted that he was named the best player of the 2015/2016 Cypriot First Division campaign. The APOEL winger made his Cyprus debut on 3 March, 2010 in a goalless draw with Iceland. Four years later he scored his first ever hat-trick for the Cypriot national team in a 5-0 triumph over Andorra.
Highlighted Team (Malta):
Back in 1957 Malta played their first international match. The Falcons faced Austria in their debut on the international stage and they suffered a 3-2 loss to Das Team in front of home fans in Gzira. The Malta Football Association joined FIFA in 1959, while joining UEFA the following year and they have been competing in the qualifiers for the major tournaments since 1962.
The Knights of Malta have yet to participate at the finals of the showpiece tournaments, but they often claim major scalps in the qualifying matches. Malta recorded their biggest win (7-1) against Liechtenstein on March 26, 2008, but a win over Hungary in the Euro 2008 qualifiers is considered their biggest achievement.
Speaking of friendly games, it has to be noted that Malta did remarkably well to beat star-studded Ukraine in Graz on June 6, 2017, with Zach Muscat scoring the winner for the minnows. In December 1983 the Maltese suffered their heaviest loss as they were crushed by Spain 12-1 in Seville.