Buttigieg names squad for Angola friendly, Portugal qualifier

Justin Haber, Andrei Agius and Andre Schembri were left out of the eighteen-man squad named by national coach John Buttigieg ahead of the friendly match against Angola on Saturday and next week’s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Portugal. The squad travels to Portugal on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, MFA president Dr Joe Mifsud said that the game Portugal vs Malta will be a very important one for our opponents due to their chances of making it to the World Cup in South Africa. He said he believed our team did very well in the last game against Sweden and was quite unlucky to lose by an own goal. The team showed it was prepared and ready to face one of the football giants. Like Sweden, Portugal are also one of the football giants despite a rather quiet start to their World Cup campaign. Dr Mifsud said the team will be aiming for another good performance in order to show that the team is on the road of progress.
National coach John Buttigieg said these games both had their importance. Buttigieg hopes the team will continue building on the good performances in recent outings. He said preparation was not ideal due to mid-week league commitments for Sliema Wanderers and Hibernians players.
Meanwhile Justin Haber, Andrei Agius and Andre Schembri who play for Ferencvaros in Hungary, Cassino in Italy and Karnten in Austria respectively are not the only foreign-based players not to be included. Daniel Bogdanovic, who plays for Barnsley, was overlooked once again.
The only players based abroad are Maltese-Australian duo – Manny Muscat and John Hutchinson. The latter makes his return after missing the last three games against Georgia, Cape Verde and Sweden respectively.
Other players not making it to the squad are injured duo Alex Muscat and Ivan Woods together with strikers Etienne Barbara and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza.
The 18 players selected by Buttigieg are:
goalkeepers Andrew Hogg (Valletta), Mario Muscat (Hibs);
defenders Ian Azzopardi (Sliema), Shaun Bajada (Birkirkara), Jonathan Caruana (Hibs), Emmanuel Muscat (Wellington Phoenix), Brian Said (Floriana), Kenneth Scicluna (Valletta);
midfielders Gilbert Agius (Valletta), Roderick Briffa (Valletta), Clayton Failla (Sliema), Ryan Fenech (Sliema), John Hutchnson (Central Coast Mariners), George Mallia (Birkirkara), Jamie Pace (Valletta), Kevin Sammut (Valletta);
forwards Andrew Cohen (Hibs) and Michael Mifsud (unattached).
During the one-week stay in Portugal, the team will be based in Porto. On Saturday, Malta takes on Angola in a friendly match at the Municipal Stadium in Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the southern Portugal. The game will be played at 20:30 local time (21:30 CET). On Wednesday, Malta faces Portugal at the D. Afonso Henriques Stadium in Guimarães.
The game against Portugal, which will kick-off at 19:45 local time (20:45 CET), will be controlled by referee Alan Kelly, assistant referees Marc Douglas and Kenneth Hennessy and fourth official Anthony Buttimer.