Four matches in six days for Malta national teams

The Malta senior national team and Under-21 side will be involved in four home matches over five days as the senior side hosts Croatia and Georgia and the Under-21 side faces Slovenia and Finland. Details about these four matches were revealed by MFA Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Vassallo during a press conference at the Centenary Hall on Saturday.

The programme of matches is as follows:
1st September – UEFA Under-21 Championship – Malta vs Slovenia @ Hibernians Stadium, kick-off at 19:00;
2nd September – EURO 2012 Qualifiers – Malta vs Croatia @ National Stadium, kick-off at 19:00;
6th September – UEFA Under-21 Championship – Malta vs Finland @ Hibernians Stadium, kick-off at 16:00;
6th September – EURO 2012 Qualifiers – Malta vs Georgia @ National Stadium, kick-off at 20:30.

Vassallo said that the national team’s objective should always be that of gaining the opponents’ respect and is confident the team will offer a worthy challenge to do so. He explained that opponents for national team friendlies were being selected carefully, mainly teams which are more or less on the same level as Malta or slightly better.

The MFA CEO said the association will continue to work hard in order to improve the level of the game. He sai that Maltese football was a product which had its market abroad. He mentioned the two Under-19 internationals have joined Italian club Livorno and an Under-17 international who is attracting the interest of another club besides other players who are on trial in England.

Bjorn Vassallo said the association’s objective was to continue investing in grassroots to improve the level of the game and hence our football product. Malta still had very few players playing abroad and the MFA hopes to increase this number in coming months and years.

Vassallo said the MFA Technical Centre was moving in the right direction and praised the coaches of the national teams, namely John Buttigieg and Carmel Busuttil, Ray Farrugia and Ronald Vella, Branko Nisevic and his assistants at the Under-19 and Under-17 national teams.

MFA Head of Marketing Norman Saliba gave the details about the games. Entrance tickets prices for the EURO 2012 qualifiers against Croatia and Georgia will be:
West Stand – €25
Millennium Stand – €10
South Stand – €5

The North Stand will be reserved for visiting fans for the Malta vs Croatia match.

Pre-match ticket selling started on Saturday and will remain open until Tuesday 6th September 2011, from the following outlets:
MFA Headquarters, Millennium Stand – National Stadium, Ta’ Qali
Eros Stationery, Paceville
Lion King Stationery, Pietà
Star Tourism, Bugibba
Teamsport, Iklin
and all Agenda Bookshop, Bookends, Exotique, Newskiosk and 8 ‘til Late outlets around Malta and Gozo.

Ticket prices for the Under-21 matches cost €4 and will only be available at the gates.

Norman Saliba went on to explain that following visits to St. Benedict Secondary School in Kirkop and Maria Regina Secondary School in Mosta – a campaign that was launched six months ago, a National Team delegation will once again keep its appointment with the various sectors of the community.

This time round it will be a visit within the football family, namely the Rabat Ajax F.C. Football Nursery.

The event will take place on Tuesday the 30th August 2011, at the Rabat Ajax Stadium in Mtarfa at 6.30pm.

The Malta Football Association is inviting members of the local community to get the chance to meet members of the National Team Squad and Technical Staff.

Saliba also announced that the national teams will be having their Facebook Page – ‘The MFA National Football Teams’

On behalf of the South End Core, Louis Agius said these games marked the fourth anniversary for the South End Core. He said this was the first time Malta was hosting four matches in five days and it was not easy to convince fans to attend all the matches.

The South End Core’s preparations, especially for the Croatia game are in full swing. Using the slogan ‘Code Red’ for this game, Agius launched an appeal for people to wear red for that game. He said the South End Core will be distributing limited-edition red t-shirts during a pre-party at Badger Karting before the Croatia game.

As regards the Under-21 matches, the South End Core hopes the positive results in the last two matches will encourage people to attend the two games at the Hibs Stadium.

National team player Andrew Cohen called fans to support the national team in these matches, saying that although these were difficult games, considering recent performances, Malta could win points from these games.

On the other hand, Under-21 international Yessous Camilleri also called for support for the Under-21 matches. He said that after the positive results in the two away matches, including the draw with Finland, hopefully Malta will do better against the Finnish side at the Hibs Stadium. Camilleri concluded by saying that with support the team could do better.

The four games will be screened on TVM, except for the second half of the Croatia game which will be broadcast on E22.

Provisional Malta A squad:

Andrew Hogg – Valletta FC
Ruben Gauci – Marsaxlokk FC

Andrei Agius – AS Melfi
Steve Borg – Valletta FC
Roderick Briffa – Valletta FC
Jonathan Caruana – Valletta FC
Clayton Failla – Hibernians FC
Edward Herrera – Hibernians FC
Carlo Mamo – Marsaxlokk FC
Mannie Muscat – Wellington Phoenix FC
Kenneth Scicluna – Qormi FC
Joseph Zerafa – Birkirakara FC

Trevor Cilia – Birkirakara FC
Paul Fenech – Birkirakara FC
Ryan Fenech – Valletta FC
John Hutchinson – Chengdu Blades FC
John Mintoff – Floriana FC
Jamie Pace – Valletta FC
Gareth Sciberras – Birkirakara FC
Ivan Woods – Floriana FC

Daniel Bogdanovic – Sheffield United FC
Christian Caruana – Floriana FC
Andrew Cohen – Hibernians FC
Micheal Mifsud – Valletta FC
Andre Schembri – Olympiacos Volou FC

Provisional Under-21 squad:

Balzan Daniel – St. Andrews F.C.
Parnis Adrian – Sannat Lions F.C.
Sultana Steve – Qormi F.C.

Bugeja Owen – Floriana F.C.
Camilleri Yessous – Balzan Youths F.C.
Cassar Cleaven – Pieta’ Hotspurs F.C.
Farrugia Kane Paul – Mosta F.C.
Gauci Matthew Robert – Hamrun Spartans F.C.
Grech Ishmael – Pieta’ Hotspurs F.C.
Martinelli Luca – Mosta F.C.
Muscat Zach – Pieta’ Hotspurs F.C.
Xerri Jonathan – Marsaxlokk F.C.

Borg Clyde – Floriana F.C.
Caruana Triston – Hibernians F.C.
Grech Sheldon – Mosta F.C.
Grima Dylan – Balzan Youths F.C.
Kristensen Bjorn – Hibernians F.C.
Muscat Rowen – Birkirkara F.C.
Scerri Mark – Sliema Wanderers F.C.

Ciantar Miguel – Sliema Wanderers F.C.
Farrugia Jean Paul – Marsaxlokk F.C.
Grech Leighton – Birkirkara F.C.
Pisani Steve – Hibernians F.C.

Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina/MFA