Busy weeks for national teams

These will be busy weeks for Malta Football Association as the senior side, Under-21, Under-19, Under-23 and women’s teams will all be in action.
The Malta ‘A’ team hosts Bulgaria in a friendly match on Wednesday 18th November at the Hibernians Ground, kick-off at 19:00. 
National coach John Buttigieg said this game is part of the team’s preparation ahead of the EURO 2012 qualifiers which will kick-off next autumn. The draws for these qualifiers will be held in February.
The Malta coach said that over the next months, he will get the opportunity to test new players.
Barnsley striker Daniel Bogdanovic, who is yet to feature in the national team following the appointment of Buttigieg as national squad, is back in the squad together with three new faces, namely defenders Edward Herrera of Hibernians and Steve Bezzina of Valletta and Birkirkara midfielder Paul Fenech. 
The provisional squad is made up of:
goalkeepers Andrew Hogg (Valletta), Mario Muscat (Hibs);
defenders Andrei Agius (Cassino), Ian Azzopardi (Sliema), Shaun Bajada (Birkirkara), Steve Bezzina (Valletta), Edward Herrera (Hibs), Brian Said (Floriana), Kenneth Scicluna (Valletta), Aaron Xuereb (Hibs);
midfielders Gilbert Agius (Valletta), Roderick Briffa (Valletta), Clayton Failla (Sliema), Ryan Fenech (Sliema), Paul Fenech (Birkirkara), George Mallia (Birkirkara), Jamie Pace (Valletta), Kevin Sammut (Valletta);
forwards Etienne Barbara (Hibs), Daniel Bogdanovic (Barnsley), Michael Mifsud (unattached), Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (Sliema), Ivan Woods (Sliema).
The match will be controlled by Dutch referee Sab Nijhuis who will be assisted by Maltese officials – assistant referees Konrad Borg and Alan Camilleri and fourth official Clayton Pisani.
MFA president said that the association is still discussing with the German FA (DFB) regarding a possible friendly match between Malta and Germany.
Meanwhile the Under-21 side will be playing another game from Group 8 of the UEFA Under-21 Championship against Slovenia on Friday 13 at the Sportni Park in Nova Gorica, kick-off at 16:00.
Malta has so far played four matches in the group, losing to Slovenia, Belgium and France at home and to Ukraine away from home.
Under-21 coach Edwin Camilleri said that three players are ruled out injured – namely Steve Bonnici, John Mintoff and Glanville Goodlip while Warren Chircop is suspended. He said that another five players suffered slight injuries during the weekend but he hopes they will be able to recover in time before the squad leaves Malta on Wednesday.
The provisional squad is made up of:
goalkeepers Henry Bonello (Vittoriosa), Jurgen Micallef (Floriana), Nicky Vella (Valletta);
defenders Steve Borg (Valletta), Adrian Borg (Mosta), Owen Bugeja (Floriana), Ryan Camilleri (Hibs), Tyrone Farrugia (Msida), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino (Sliema), George Gribbon (Melita), Duncan Pisani (Floriana);
midfielders Richard Chetcuti (Warrington), Dylan Grima (Valletta), Dominic Mifsud (Pietà), Beppe Muscat (Vittoriosa), Chris Pace (Mosta), Karl Pulo (Birkirkara), Nigel Rizzo (Melita), Mark Scerri (Sliema), Joseph Zerafa (Birkirkara);
forwards Miguel Ciantar (Sliema), Julian Galea (Melita), Kane Micallef (Melita), Terence Vella (Mosta).
The game will be controlled by Greek officials, namely referee Anastassios Kakos who will be assisted by Christos Gennaios and Spyridion Tryfonas and fourth official Stavros Tritsonis. 
The Malta women’s national team plays the third game from Group 5 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup against Austria on Wednesday 18th November at the Centenary Stadium, kick-off at 14:30.
Assistant coach Mark Gatt said that after the highly disappointing defeat to Spain where the local girls’ fear of their opponents was too evident, last month the team did much better despite losing 8-0 to European championship finalists England. The girls played their hearts out and it was only after the dismissal of Natasha Pace that England scored four in the last half hour. 
Gatt said that Austria was considered another strong team, considering that they just lost 2-0 to Spain away from home and 0-1 at home. However he believes that if the team shows the same determination, the performance against Austria could be a good one.
The provisional squad is made up of:
goalkeepers Sharon Costantino (Birkirkara), Michelle Zahra (Birkirkara);
defenders Maria Azzopardi (Hibs), Rebecca Chircop (Mosta), Marisa Deguara (Mosta), Chantal Fenech (Birkirkara), Michelle Pace (Gozo), Kim Parnis (Birkirkara), Corissa Vella (Raiders), Charlene Zammit (Hibs);
midfielders Oriana Bedingfield (Melita), Catherine Camilleri (Birkirkara), Rachael Cuschieri (Birkirkara), Rebecca D’Agostino (Mosta), Yanika Debono (Sta. Venera), Mandy Debono (Hibs), Claire Sciberras (Hibs), Emma Xuereb (Gozo);
forwards Melania Bajada (Gozo), Ylenia Carabott (Raiders), Kathleen Saliba (Hibs), Dorianne Theuma (Mosta), Gabriella Zahra (Melita).
The Malta Under-19 side will be hosting the UEFA Under-19 Championship Group 10 mini-tournament between Thursday 12 and Tuesday 17 November. Taking part in the mini-tournament, besides Malta are Cyprus, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
Malta plays the first game against the Netherlands on Thursday at 11:15, then meets the Czech Republic on Saturday at 14:00 before the final game against Cyprus on Tuesday at 11:15. All matches from the tournament will be played at the Centenary Stadium, except for the game between the Czech Republic and Netherlands which will be played at the Hibs Ground.
Assistant coach Raymond Schembri said these will be difficult games for the Maltese side considering that the strength of the visiting teams. Most of the players in the Dutch squad are coming from the Ajax and Feyenoord academies. The team did very well in a recent tournament against Ireland and Turkey. The Czech Republic won four of the last five friendlies and their players are all born 1991. Cyprus, on the other hand, have a number of players based in English academies such as Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough and Bolton Wanderers. 
On the other hand, the Under-23 national team will be making its debut on December 2nd in the game against Italy in the International Challenge Trophy.
Dr Mifsud said the association had accepted the invitation to take in this second edition of the tournament in order to offer players who are no longer eligible to play for the Under-21 side but have not yet made it to the senior team the chance to represent Malta.
After this game, Malta will play Belgium on March 31 away from home before hosting Romania on April 21.