Malta hosts Cape Verde in friendly match

As part of the team’s preparation ahead of next Wednesday’s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Sweden, Malta hosts Cape Verde in an international friendly match on Friday at the National Stadium, kick-off at 20:30.
In another friendly match last month, a brace by Michael Mifsud gave Malta a fine 2-0 win over Georgia. The first win for Malta in over fifteen months and a most positive debut for national coach John Buttigieg. 
New Ferencvaros goalkeeper Justin Haber, defender Manny Muscat of Wellington Phoenix and Hibernians defender Jonathan Caruana are back in the squad after missing the game against Georgia. Defender Alex Muscat and midfielder Gilbert Agius are ruled out as both were recovering from slight injuries. Hibernians duo Mario Muscat and Etienne Barbara together with Birkirkara midfielder George Mallia were dropped. Valletta defender Luke Dimech was left out of the squad once again while once again there was no place for Barnsley striker Daniel Bogdanovic. Central Coast Mariners midfielder John Hutchinson was spared the trip to Malta due to the recent birth of his child.
Addressing the media on Thursday, Malta coach John Buttigieg said the game against Cape Verde was an important one for the national team. He said that just like any other international game, the team had to concentrate on this particular match, trying to obtain a good result and only once it is over, start to think about the next game. As it was the case with the game against Georgia, a positive result would boost the morale of the local players.
When asked about the absence of particular players, Buttigieg insisted that the national team is open to all as long as the players are committed to the national team. However he pointed out that a player who is doing well in the domestic league does not necessarily make the grade for the national team. Buttigieg also stressed on the importance of having national team players playing regularly for their clubs.
The players selected by Buttigieg are:
goalkeepers Justin Haber (Ferencvaros), Andrew Hogg (Valletta);
defenders Andrei Agius (Cassino), Ian Azzopardi (Sliema), Shaun Bajada (Birkirkara), Jonathan Caruana (Hibernians), Manny Muscat (Wellington), Brian Said (Marsaxlokk), Kenneth Scicluna (Valletta);
midfielders Roderick Briffa (Valletta), Clayton Failla (Sliema), Ryan Fenech (Sliema), Jamie Pace (Valletta), Kevin Sammut (Valletta);
forwards Andrew Cohen (Hibernians), Michael Mifsud (unattached), Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (Sliema), Andre Schembri (SK Karnten).
Cape Verde Islands are a relatively new country to international football. They joined FIFA in 1986 but it was only in 2000 that they took part for the first time in World Cup qualifiers. Cape Verde have already been eliminated from the 2010 qualifiers after finishing second in a group won by Cameroon. They defeated Tanzania at home, Mauritius – home and away.
Earlier this year, they beat Angola 1-0 away from home and Equatorial Guinea 5-0 at home. This was the biggest win ever for the Blue Sharks who are now ranked 112th.