National coach Pietro Ghedin named thirty-one players to form the national squad which starts training ahead of the forthcoming friendly match against Northern Ireland next month and the two 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Italy in March.
Goalkeeper Nicky Vella of Tarxien, Jacob Dominico Borg of Balzan, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino of Sliema and Shawn Magro of Msida St. Joseph are the new faces in the squad.
Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
The national team will resume their training programme on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th January at at the National Training Centre in Ta’ Qali. This will be in preparation for the friendly match against Northern Ireland at Ta’ Qali on 6th February before Malta faces Bulgaria on the 22nd March away from home to be followed by the home match against Italy on 26th March.
The players selected by Ghedin are:
goalkeepers Henry Bonello (Sliema), Reuben Gauci (Birkirkara), Justin Haber (Mosta), Nicholas Vella (Tarxien);
defenders Jacob Borg (Balzan), Steve Borg (Valletta), Ryan Camilleri (Hibernians), Jonathan Caruana (Valletta), Alexander Cini (Mosta), Luke Dimech (Valletta), Clayton Failla (Hibernians), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino (Sliema), Justin Grioli (Tarxien), Alexander Muscat (Sliema), Joseph Zerafa (Birkirkara);
midfielders Ayrton Azzopardi (Hibernians), Shawn Bajada (Valletta), Roderick Briffa (Valletta), Paul Fenech (Birkirkara), Ryan Fenech (Valletta), Edward Herrera (Birkirkara), Bjorn Kristensen (Hibernians), Shawn Magro (Msida), John Mintoff (Sliema), Rowen Muscat (Birkirkara), Gareth Sciberras (Birkirkara);
forwards Danijel Bogdanovic (Mosta), Andrew Cohen (Hibernians), Julian Galea (Melita), Michael Mifsud (Valletta), Terence Vella (Hamrun).
Meanwhile the Under 21 will face Austria at the Hibernians Stadium for an international friendly match on the 6th of February and on the 15th of January, Ray Farrugia will have an initially assessment of the new squad against an Italian team, ASD Vigor Mellis – Roma.
The women’s national team will also be in action against Cyprus in a friendly encounter on the 12th January. This match is another one in a series of preparation matches for our women’s team in view of their competitive commitments in April when they face Albania, Luxembourg and Latvia in the UEFA Women’ s Preliminary Round matches.
The Futsal national team, under coach Kevin Mifsud, will in turn be meeting England on the Sunday 6th January in a the 3rd International Friendly Futsal Tournament, a quadrangular event at the Hibernians Sports Pavilion. Malta’s next matches are against Georgia on Monday 7th January and Greece on Wednesday 9th January. The Futsal national team will once again be in action at the end of January in the UEFA Futsal competition. Malta will be hosting the event, a group which also includes Georgia and Moldova.