Malta coach John Buttigieg named a provisional twenty-two-man squad ahead of next Friday’s EURO 2012 qualifier in programme at the Boris Paichadze National Stadium in Tbilisi.
As expected, the provisional squad includes Ferencvaros duo Justin Haber and Andre Schembri. On the other hand, Maltese-Australian flank defender Manny Muscat is absent from the squad. Also missing is Daniel Bogdanovic, who is ruled out as he is serving a one-match ban after collecting two yellow cards in the first two games against Israel and Latvia, and Clayton Failla, who is recovering from an injury.
Buttigieg said that once again this will be an important game for Malta and a difficult one at the same time. He is aware of the opponents’ strength considering the draw against Greece – one of the main favourites in the group – and Israel in their first two matches.
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The Malta coach said that in the last game against Latvia, the team showed some improvement after a rather disappointing first outing in Israel. He said the team enjoyed more ball possession and created more chances although these failed to materialise into goals. Failure to obtain any points from that game was a big disappointment for Buttigieg.
He said the team should look forward towards obtaining a good result despite being aware of difficulties.
When asked regarding the presence or absence of particular players in the national squad, John Buttigieg said that the doors are open for all as long as a player is doing well.
He said that Justin Haber has now resumed training after recovering from an injury while Andre Schembri is now playing regularly with Ferencvaros. According to Buttigieg, the absence of Daniel Bogdanovic means that there is the chance for other players to show their potential.
The players in the provisional squad are:
goalkeepers Justin Haber, Andrew Hogg, Mario Muscat, Anthony Curmi;
defenders Andrei Agius, Jonathan Caruana, Massimo Grima, Edward Herrera, Carlo Mamo, Joseph Zerafa;
midfielders Shaun Bajada, Roderick Briffa, Trevor Cilia, Paul Fenech, Ryan Fenech, Jamie Pace, Kevin Sammut, Gareth Sciberras;
forwards Andrew Cohen, Michael Mifsud, Andre Schembri, Ivan Woods.
The squad leaves Malta on Monday and arrives in Tbilisi after a thirteen-hour trip. The contingent returns to Malta on Saturday.