Malta goalkeeper Justin Haber told UEFA.com of his immense pride at his team's surprise 1-0 victory against Armenia in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group B that ended the islanders' 20-year wait for a competitive away win.
With Pietro Ghedin's side having lost their first five fixtures on the road to Brazil 2014, including a 1-0 home defeat at the beginning of the campaign by Friday's opponents, Malta touched down in Yerevan hardly battling a tide of expectation.
Yet a combination of Michael Mifsud's 37th goal in 98 internationals and the brilliance of Haber, allied to a tireless team performance and some stoic defending as Armenia laid siege to the visitors' penalty area, ensured Malta a long-awaited success.
Not since a 1-0 triumph over Estonia on 12 May 1993 had the Mediterranean island's footballers returned from their competitive travels with all three points.
"I am so proud to be part of this team, which goes down in Maltese football history," said Birkirkara FC No1 Haber shortly after touching down in Valletta on Saturday morning. "I am so proud to be Maltese and to have beaten a more storied team than we are away from home."
Haber's club-mate Edward Herrera and defender Clayton Failla were quick to share their joy on Facebook, describing the result at the Yerevan Republican Stadium as the "perfect way to end the season". "I can't explain this – it's the cherry on the cake," said Failla. "We worked hard for this and to win away from home is a [source of] big satisfaction."
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Ghedin paid tribute to his charges' resilience. "I am proud of my players," he said. "This is a great win for Malta against a very strong team who play one-touch football. We had to endure a lot of pressure from Armenia but, at the same time, we could have scored a second goal after Mifsud's opener."
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