Malta will be facing Slovakia in a friendly match at the Štadión pod Dubňom in Žilina on Thursday, kick-off at 18:20, in what should be an important test for Pietro Ghedin’s side ahead of the first game from Group B of the EURO 2016 qualifiers against Croatia in Zagreb on Tuesday.
With Alex Muscat and Roderick Briffa ruled out injured, there was still no space for Shaun Bajada and Terence Vella. On the other hand, a number of players from the Under-21 team, led by Ray Farrugia who is now assistant coach of the senior side, were drafted in for the friendly match against Slovakia and the Croatia EURO 2016 qualifier.
Apart from Steve Pisani and Jean Paul Farrugia who were included in the last friendly match against Gibraltar, Birkirkara duo Zach Muscat and Ryan Scicluna made it to the squad.
Ghedin is expected to make changes to his tactical set-up from a 4-2-3-1 formation to a 3-5-2 which would change to a 5-3-2.
Andrew Hogg is set to start in goal with Andrei Agius, Ryan Camilleri and Jonathan Caruana so the three defenders, Steve Borg and Clayton Failla on the flanks, Paul Fenech, Ryan Fenech and Rowen Muscat in midfield, Andre Schembri and Michael Mifsud in attack.
The other players in the squad are Justin Haber, Steve Bezzina, Zach Muscat, Andrew Cohen, Edward Herrera, Bjorn Kristensen, Steve Pisani, Ryan Scicluna and Jean Paul Farrugia.
Malta and Slovakia met five times with four of the matches ending in wins for Slovakia. They defeated Malta 2-1 in a friendly match at Ta’ Qali in March 1994 but in a friendly match in Slovakia in August 1994, Malta obtained a 1-1 draw. In the World Cup qualifiers leading to France 1998, Malta lost 6-0 away from home in September 1996 and 2-0 at Ta’ Qali in March 1997. The last encounter goes back to August 2006 which ended in a 3-0 win for the hosts.
After this game, the team will be going for a training camp in Senec, Slovakia between Friday and Sunday before travelling to Zagreb.