Depleted Malta takes on Latvia

Jonathan Caruana, Daniel Bogdanovic and captain Michael Mifsud are ruled out injured for Malta as John Buttigieg’s side takes on Latvia at the Skonto Stadions in Riga on Friday in the penultimate match from Group F of the EURO 2012 Qualifiers, kick-off at 19:00 CET.

Malta collected one point in the last outing against Georgia but Caruana and Mifsud who were both in the starting line-up for that game and Bogdanovic who was included as a substitute were unable to make the trip. Buttigieg is therefore forced to make at least two changes.

It remains to be seen whether Justin Haber, who is back in squad after missing the games against Croatia and Georgia due to an injury, will start or Andrew Hogg will wear once again the number one shirt.

With Caruana unavailable, Gareth Sciberras will probably be employed as central defender together with Andrei Agius. On the other hand, with Manny Muscat left out of the squad, Roderick Briffa should start on the right flank with Clayton Failla on the left unless the Malta coach decides to start with Edward Herrera or hands Valletta defender Steve Borg his debut and utilise Briffa in midfield.

Jamie Pace should join Ryan Fenech and John Hutchinson in midfield, probably together with Trevor Cilia, in case Briffa plays in defence. Andrew Cohen, on the other hand, is expected to take a more advanced role, joining Andre Schembri in attack.

The other players at the disposal of Buttigieg and his assistant Carmel Busuttil are Joseph Zerafa, Carlo Mamo, Paul Fenech, Ivan Woods.

Meanwhile Latvia will be going in search of their first home victory in Group F on Friday. Although they registered two wins in the group – both were away wins: against Malta and Georgia. The other two points were obtained in draws with Georgia and Greece.

Latvia will look to secure a first home win in Group F as they take on the section’s bottom side, Malta, in their penultimate UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier.

Malta and Latvia met four times – two wins for Malta and two wins for Latvia, the last clash between the two countries being September 2010’s EURO 2012 qualifier whcih ended in a 2-0 win for Latvia at Ta’ Qali courtesy of goals by Kaspars Gorkšs and Maris Verpakovskis.

Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar