Malta will be hosting Switzerland in a friendly match at the National Stadium on Wednesday, kick-off at 20:30. A match which should provide an important test for John Buttigieg’s side as it serves as preparation for next month’s EURO 2012 qualifier against Greece at Ta’ Qali.
In their last outing, the Maltese national team lost 3-0 to Group F leaders Croatia in Zagreb last November.
Sheffield United striker Daniel Bogdanovic and new Valletta signing Ryan Fenech are both ruled out injured while Maltese-Australian midfielder John Hutchinson who had also turned out for Malta in the last game was unable to make the trip. Massimo Grima is no longer part of the national squad.
On the other hand, Andrei Agius, Andrew Cohen and Carlo Mamo who had missed the Croatia game due to injuries or suspensions are all back in squad. Also part of the squad is Valletta midfielder Jamie Pace who skipped the last two matches for the Citizens as he was recovering from an injury. The only foreign-based players in the squad are Ferencvaros duo Justin Haber and Andre Schembri.
The players at the disposal of John Buttigieg and his assistant Carmel Busuttil are:
goalkeepers Justin Haber (Ferencvaros TC), Andrew Hogg (Valletta);
defenders Andrei Agius (Birkirkara), Jonathan Caruana (Valletta), Joseph Zerafa (Birkirkara), Roderick Briffa (Valletta), Carlo Mamo (Marsaxlokk), Clayton Failla (Sliema), Edward Herrera (Hibs);
midfielders Shaun Bajada (Birkirkara), Paul Fenech (Birkirkara), Jamie Pace (Valletta), Kevin Sammut (Valletta), Gareth Sciberras (Marsaxlokk);
forwards Andrew Cohen (Hibs), Michael Mifsud (Qormi), Andre Schembri (Ferencvaros), Ivan Woods (Floriana).
Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfeld will be fielding his best formation at Ta’ Qali. The starting line-up in fact will be made up of: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg); Stephan Lichtsteiner (Lazio), Von Bergen (Cesena), Stephane Grichting (Auxerre), Reto Ziegler (Sampdoria); Eren Derdiyok (Bayer Leverkusen), Gokhan Inler (Udinese), Pirmin Schwegler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Valentin Stocker (Basel); Hakan Yakin (Lucerne), Alexander Frei (Basel).
The other players in the Swiss squad are:
Marco Wolfli (Young Boys), Johan Djourou (Arsenal), David Degen (Young Boys), Blerim Dzemalili (Parma), Gelson Fernandes (Chievo), Xherdan Shaqiri (Basel), Marco Streller (Basel).
Switzerland are currently third in Group G of the EURO 2012 qualifiers with three points from three matches, seven points behind leaders Montenegro and four behind England.
Malta and Switzerland met six times but this will be the first time the two teams are meeting in a friendly match. The best result for Malta is a 1-1 draw in a European Championship qualifier in November 1987. In the last meeting between the two teams at Ta’ Qali, Switzerland won 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in April 1993.
Malta vs Switzerland will be controlled by referee Marios Stamatis, assistant referees Doros Touros and Stelios Nikita from the FA of Cyprus and fourth official Marco Borg.
Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina/MFA