After suffering defeats to Estonia and Luxembourg, Malta faces Finland in a friendly match at the Gloria Sports Arena in Belek, Turkey on Monday, kick-off at 18:00 CEST.
On his debut as national coach, Tom Saintfiet led Malta in a 0-3 defeat to Estonia at Ta’ Qali in November and last November a stoppage-time goal gave Luxembourg a narrow win in another match at the National Stadium. Malta therefore continues to chase a first positive result as the team continues its preparation ahead of the UEFA Nations League commitments against Faroe Islands, Kosovo and Azerbaijan.
The Malta coach was forced to make one change from the squad as Zach Muscat sustained an injury in the Luxembourg game and was replaced by Jean Borg who was due to join the Under-21 side for the qualifier against Turkey in programme on Tuesday.
Apart from replacing Muscat, Saintfiet could make further changes to the line-up as he continues to experiment with the players at his disposal in order to find the right players and formation ahead of the UEFA Nations League qualifiers.
The players who travelled to Turkey are:
goalkeepers Henry Bonello (Valletta), Andrew Hogg (Hibernians), Steve Sultana (Hamrun);
defenders Andrei Agius (Hibernians), Cain Attard (Birkirkara), Myles Beerman (Queen of the South), Jean Borg (Valletta), Steve Borg (Valletta), Ryan Camilleri (Valletta), Michael Johnson (Balzan), Joseph Zerafa (Valletta);
midfielders Roderick Briffa (Gzira), Triston Caruana (Hamrun), Paul Fenech (Balzan), Luke Gambin (Luton Town), Rowen Muscat (Valletta), Steve Pisani (Floriana);
forwards Siraj Arab Eddin (Balzan), Alfred Effiong (Balzan), Jean Paul Farrugia (Chiasso), Michael Mifsud (Valletta), Andre Schembri (Apollon Limassol).
Finland are ranked 68th, compared to Malta’s 185th. They are unbeaten in five matches played since September, having defeated Iceland 1-0 and Kosovo 1-0 before two draws against Croatia and Turkey in the World Cup qualifiers and a goalless draw with FYR Macedonia last Friday in a friendly match in Turkey.
The squad is made up of:
goalkeepers Lukas Hradecky (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jesse Joronen (AC Horsens), Anssi Jaakkola (Reading FC);
defenders Juhani Ojala (BK Häcken), Joona Toivio (KS Nieciecza), Kalle Taimi (FC Lahti), Paulus Arajuuri (Brøndby IF), Sauli Väisänen (SPAL), Jere Uronen (KRC Genk);
midfielder and forwards Tim Sparv (FC Midtjylland), Rasmus Schüller (Minnesota United), Alexander Ring (New York City FC),
Juha Pirinen (HJK), Moshtagh Yaghoubi (HJK), Thomas Lam (FC Twente), Robin Lod (Panathinaikos FC), Glen Kamara (Dundee FC)
Fredrik Jensen (FC Twente), Teemu Pukki (Brøndby IF), Robert Taylor (AIK), Kasper Hämäläinen (Legia Warszawa), Akseli Pelvas (HJK), Pyry Soiri (FC Shaktyor Soligorsk).
Malta and Finland met seven times but apart from a 2-0 win for Malta in the Rothmans Tournament in February 1988 and two draws – 0-0 in the Rothmans Tournament in February 1989 and 1-1 in a EURO qualifier in November 1990, Malta lost the other four matches – 2-0 in a EURO qualifier in May 1991 away from home; 2-0 in March 1998, 1-2 in March 2004 and 1-2 in March 2010 in three friendly matches at home.