Drawing both opening matches of the campaign has left Craig Levein's side already chasing their competitors in Group A.
Maloney did not play in the 0-0 draw with Serbia last month, but did line-up in central midfield in the 1-1 stalemate with Macedonia.
Maloney reckons the players need to make up for those results in Cardiff on Friday night, since the next game is the following Tuesday away to the favourites in the group, Belgium. A win over Wales would also essentially remove Chris Coleman's side from the qualification equation.
"It's been a decent start, but it's obviously going to have to get a lot better from here on in if we're going to qualify," said Maloney.
"I don't think we have got any excuse at any time, regardless of what players we do or don't have available.
"If the result doesn't go our way on Friday night, then it will make the game in Belgium all the tougher. A win against Wales would give us some sort of confidence ahead of Brussels, though. I don't think we are going to have an easy match in this group.
"I don't know whether we have to beat Wales to have any chance of qualifying but a win against them would certainly give us a better chance.
"It's a massively important game for both teams. They've lost twice so it would be an uphill task for Wales if we were to beat them. They would probably argue that they still have seven games left but it would make it very difficult for them.
"If guys like [Gareth] Bale and [Aaron] Ramsey play at the top of their game, it obviously takes Wales to a different level.
"I've noticed that there seems to be Belgian players involved in almost every Barclays Premier League match now.
"But it's a great game to play in. These players are fantastic and it will be great to test yourself against them and try to get a result.
"I played against some of them for Wigan against Everton at the weekend. [Marouane] Fellaini has been in great form. We've also played Chelsea this season and Eden Hazard was really good. We are well aware of what to expect."
He added: "Ever since I've been in the squad, it's been talked about that the country's last tournament was France in 1998.
"It's just something we all want. I don't think we will be short on effort to get there."