As a warm-up for the two 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Denmark and Bulgaria in programme on September 6 and 10 respectively, the Malta national team will be playing a friendly match against Azerbaijan in Baku on August 14.
National coach Pietro Ghedin has called up twenty-five home-based players to start training as from Monday and Tuesday.
The squad includes familiar faces with the only uncapped players being goalkeepers Glenn Zammit and Nicky Vella, defenders Clifford Gatt Baldacchino and Justin grioli and midfielder Mark Scerri.
Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
Twenty of the twenty-five players come from Birkirkara, Hibernians, Sliema and Valletta.
The squad is made-up of:
goalkeepers Henry Bonello (Sliema), Justin Haber (Birkirkara), Glenn Zammit (Sliema), Nicky Vella (Tarxien);
defenders Jacob Borg (Balzan), Steve Borg (Valletta), Ryan Camilleri (Hibs), Jonathan Caruana (Valletta), Luke Dimech (Valletta), Clayton Failla (Hibs), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino (Sliema), Justin Grioli (Balzan), Alex Muscat (Sliema);
midfielders Shaun Bajada (Valletta), Roderick Briffa (Valletta), Andrew Cohen (Hibs), Paul Fenech (Birkirkara), Ryan Fenech (Valletta), Edward Herrera (Birkirkara), John Mintoff (Sliema), Rowen Muscat (Birkirkara), Mark Scerri (Sliema), Gareth Sciberras (Birkirkara);
forwards Danijel Bogdanovic (Floriana), Michael Mifsud (unattached).
Having under our belt a prestigious away victory against Armenia last June which kick-started our points figures from the nil mark, Malta will be looking to keep up the positive momentum when they face the Danes and the Bulgarians in what should again be two stiff tests.
The squad under the charge of coach Pietro Ghedin and his technical team has been preparing for some time now in view of these two encounters. These work-outs are being stepped up to reach a peak in the coming weeks and especially in the wake of the start of the top league programme in August.
The Maltese will have to be on their best behaviour to fend off the challenge of two of the most articulate teams in Europe, who possess some of the best talent in circulation.
Early season inertia will have to be shaken off if the team wants to uphold their recently-acquired pride after their second ever success in a World Cup qualifier.