The Malta Under-23 side will be hosting Italy in the first match from the International Challenge Trophy at the National Stadium on Wednesday, kick-off at 19:00. Italy will be represented by players from the Lega Pro the former Serie C1 and C2.
The International Challenge Trophy is reserved for players under the age of 23 and taking part in the competition are eleven countries which were divided into three groups. Malta was drawn in Group A together with Italy, Belgium and Romania. England, Republic of Ireland and Estonia will play in Group B while Portugal, Poland, Wales and Northern Ireland were drawn in Group C. Group matches are played either home or away.
The Malta Football Association will be using this team to give players who are no longer eligible to play for the Under-21 side but who are yet to make it to the senior squad an opportunity to play international football. The squad in fact includes several former Under-21 internationals although there are also some players like Andrei Agius, Clayton Failla, Edward Herrera, Paul Fenech and Ryan Fenech who have already played for the senior side.
Coach Carmel Busuttil named eighteen players:
goalkeepers Glenn Zammit (Marsaxlokk), Matthew Felice (East Mills – CAN);
defenders Andrei Agius (Cassino – ITA), Steve Bezzina (Valletta), Steve Borg (Valletta), Clayton Failla (Sliema), Tyrone Farrugia (Msida), Justin Grioli (Valletta), Edward Herrera (Hibs);
midfielders Edmond Agius (Valletta), Matthew Bartolo (Sliema), Gianluca Calabretta (Tarxien), Dyson Falzon (Valletta), Paul Fenech (Birkirkara), Ryan Fenech (Sliema);
forwards Angus Buhagiar (Birkirkara), Quilin Refalo (Pietà), Ian Zammit (Valletta).
Italian coach Giorgio Veneri named the following squad: goalkeeper Gianmarco D’Orio (Prato), Fabio Gadignani (Mezzocorona);
defenders Maikol Benassi (Esperia Viareggio), Lorenzo Laverone (Arezzo), Simone Malacarne (Cremonese), Enrico Pezzi (Bellaria Igea Marina), Fabrizio Poli (Arezzo), Giovanni Rossi (Foligno);
midfielders Davide Bariti (Carrarese), Oscar Branzani (Giacomense), Paolo Campinoti (Monza), Alessio Cristiani (Esperia Viareggio), Francesco Giraldi (Nocerina), Mattia Lerda (Bellaria Igea Marina);
forwards Stefano Giacomelli (Foligno), Nicola Russo (Taranto), Luca Scapuzzi (Portogruaro), Marco Verratti (Pescara).
The match will be controlled by referee Marco Borg who will be assisted by assistant referees Philip Agius and Ingmar Spiteri and fourth official Clayton Pisani.
After this game, Malta will play Belgium on March 31 away from home before hosting Romania on April 21.