Malta targets first positive result in group

Malta will be hoping to collect its first points in group F of the EURO 2012 Qualifiers as the national team takes on Georgia on Tuesday, kick-off at 20:30. This will be the second game in five days after Malta lost 1-3 to Croatia last Friday.

The Maltese went close to collecting a point in Tbilisi last October but a goal one minute in added time by David Siradze gave Georgia a narrow win.

Malta coach John Buttigieg is aware that the game against Georgia will be another difficult game but at the same time he said he is confident the players will be doing their very best to obtain a positive result.

Having to play two matches in a few days has its pros and cons according to Buttigieg.

“In the second game, players could do better as they adapt themselves to playing at a higher tempo but at the same time, some players do not have the physical strength to face two matches in such a short period of time considering that they are not used to,” said Buttigieg.

The Malta coach is expected to make one to two changes from the team which lost to Croatia with Jonathan Caruana and possibly Daniel Bogdanovic making it to the starting line-up. The former missed the last game as he was sick while Bogdanovic was dropped from the squad as he travelled to England two days before the game. Caruana and Bogdanovic could replace Gareth Sciberras and Manny Muscat.

The squad at the disposal of Buttigieg and his assistant Carmel Busuttil is made up of:
goalkeepers Reuben Gauci (Marsaxlokk), Andrew Hogg (Valletta);
defenders Andrei Agius (Latina), Roderick Briffa (Valletta), Jonathan Caruana (Valletta), Clayton Failla (Hibs), Carlo Mamo (Marsaxlokk), Joseph Zerafa (Birkirkara);
midfielders Trevor Cilia (Birkirkara), Paul Fenech (Birkirkara), Ryan Fenech (Valletta), John Hutchinson (Chengdu Blades), Manny Muscat (Wellington Phoenix), Jamie Pace (Valletta), Gareth Sciberras (Birkirkara);
forwards Danijel Bogdanovic (Blackpool), Andrew Cohen (Hibs), Michael Mifsud (Valletta), Andre Schembri (Olympiakos Volou), Ivan Woods (Floriana).

Georgia had a fantastic start to their EURO 2012 campaign, collecting nine points from the first five matches thanks to a draw with Greece away from home, a draw with Israel, a win over Malta, an away draw with Latvia and a win over Croatia. However they lost the last three matches – 1-0 to Israel and 2-1 to Croatia away from home and a home defeat to Latvia last Friday.

The two countries met six times with Malta emerging as 2-0 winners in the last clash at Ta’ Qali played in August 2009. Georgia won four matches with a friendly game in Tbilisi in July 1994 ending in a 1-1 draw.

The players at the disposal of coach Temuri Ketsbaia are:
goalkeepers Nukri Revishvili (FC Anzhi Makhachkala), Giorgi Loria (FC Dinamo Tbilisi), Roin Kvaskhvadze (FC Zestafoni).
defenders Kakha Kaladze (Genoa CFC), Zurab Khizanishvili (Kayserispor), Ucha Lobzhanidze (FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Aleksandr Amisulashvili (FC Krasnodar), Guram Kashia (Vitesse), Gia Grigalava (FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod).
midfielders Murtaz Daushvili (FC Zestafoni), Jaba Kankava (FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih), Levan Kobiashvili (Hertha BSC Berlin), David Targamadze (PFC Oleksandria), David Kvirkvelia (Panionios GSS), Jano Ananidze (FC Spartak Moskva), Alexander Guruli (FC Karpaty Lviv), Irakli Maisuradze (FC Olimpi Rustavi), Shota Grigalashvili (FC Zestafoni)
forwards Aleksandr Iashvili (Karlsruher SC), David Siradze (PFC Spartak Nalchik), Vladimir Dvalishvili (Maccabi Haifa FC), Otar Martsvaladze (FC Krasnodar), Alexander Kobakhidze (FC Arsenal Kyiv).

Tickets will also be available for sale on match day from the respective ticket booths, except for the South Stand tickets who will be on sale from the West Stand C ticket-booths. Doors open at 19:00.

Ticket prices will be as follows:
West Stand – €25 adults; €2.50 children under 12.
Millennium Stand – €10 adults; €2.50 children under 12.
South Stand – €5 adults; €2.50 children under 12.

The North Stand will be closed.

Meanwhile the Malta Football Association will be celebrating FIFA Fair Play Day on Tuesday 6th September during this match and the Under-21 qualifier between Malta and Finland. T-Shirts are being printed for the occasion, to be worn by the two sets of players of both matches, match officials, players escorts and flag carriers.

Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina