After climbing five places to 96th in the latest FIFA Women’s Rankings, the Malta women’s team will get their 2017 schedule up and running with two friendly games against Lithuania at the Centenary Stadium this week.
The first friendly is being played on Wednesday at 18.30 while the second match is on Friday, a Public Holiday, and kicks off at 11.00.
These warm-ups are part of the national women squad’s build-up for the Aphrodite Cup, to be staged in Cyprus in March, and the matches against Greece, hosts Albania and Kosovo in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup preliminary round between April 6 and 11.
“These two games are an important part of our preparations for the upcoming international commitments,” Mark Gatt, the national women’s coach, said.
“As some of our players are either injured or unwell at present, these friendlies will also serve as an opportunity to introduce some new faces.
“We are also planning to assign different roles to a number of players as our aim to improve the versatility of our team.”
Speaking on the national team’s objectives for this year, Mark Gatt said: “Our main focus is the World Cup qualification group and our work in the coming months is geared towards this competition.
“I’m confident that we will learn a lot from the technical and tactical decisions we intend to make ahead of the tournament in April and this in turn would help us make the best choices and bring out the best of the squad when the competition gets underway.”
The Malta women’s coach made an appeal to the public to support the national team in this week’s friendly games against Lithuania.
“We hope that all those interested in women’s football will come to the Centenary Stadium and give the girls their support and courage they deserve,” Gatt said.
Meanwhile, Lithuania, currently ranked 87th in the world, will also be using these friendly matches against Malta as preparation for their World Cup qualifiers against Israel, Moldova and Andorra.
Malta and Lithuania met in the Aphrodite Cup last year with the latter winning 3-2.
Goalkeepers: Rachel Borg (Mġarr United); Maria Xuereb (Mosta); Janice Xuereb (Birkirkara); Jodie Attard (Raiders Luxol).
Defenders: Rebecca Bajada, Mandy Debono, Charlene Zammit, Jade Flask (all Hibernians); Charlene Cassia (Kirkop United); Stephania Farrugia, Alishia Sultana, Ann-Marie Said, Yasmeen Vella, Gabriella Zahra (all Birkirkara).
Midfielders: Rodiana Borg, Emma Xuereb, Shona Zammit, Dorianne Theuma (all Hibernians); Rachel Cuschieri (Apollon Ladies); Kim Parnis (Birkirkara); Brenda Borg (Mġarr United).
Strikers: Kelly Agius, Raina Giusti (Birkirkara); Martina Borg, Ylenia Carabott (Hibernians).