Saturday 11 April 2020

World Cup (Malta, 1978)

The (men’s soccer) World Cup was held in Argentina in 1978. It would be generous to even call Malta a minnow in world football, so my eyes lit up when I saw this stamp. Did they, perhaps, qualify for the World Cup back in ’78? Was that the year that Malta lived the sporting dream?

Sadly, no. Malta lost all six of its qualifying games, conceding 27 goals and scoring none. Malta gained its first World Cup qualifying match win in 1993 against Estonia and followed that up in 2014 with a win over Armenia. Domestic football is buoyant – the Maltese Premier League consists of 14 teams and its winner goes to the Champions League which can’t be bad…

For those interested in language, the phrase Tazza Tad-Dinja is Maltese for World Cup. Its Arabic resonance is genuine; it turns out that Maltese originates from Arabic but with a significant dollop of Italian, Sicilian and English vocabulary thrown in over the years.

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