Malta faces Jordan in friendly match in Istanbul

Malta will be facing Jordan in an international friendly match at the Maltepe Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday afternoon.

With several ruled out for one reason or another, Malta coach Pietro Ghedin could take the opportunity to test some of the newer players in the squad in a game which could turn out to be the last for the Italian mentor as his contract expires at the end of this calendar year.

Apart from Jonathan Caruana and Ryan Fenech who have missed the last five European qualifiers due to injuries, Ghedin could not count on defenders Ryan Camilleri and Zach Muscat who are both recovering from injuries. Justin Haber, Alex Muscat and Andrew Cohen were not considered for selection while Rowen Muscat was dropped on the eve of the departure to Istanbul. There was not place either for Justin Grioli, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino and Steve Pisani, who were part of the squad for the last two qualifiers.

On the other hand, Pietro Ghedin opted to include Under-21 internationals Emanuel Briffa, Ryan Camenzuli, Llywelyn Cremona and Luke Montebello. Apart from Camenzuli, the other three are still uncapped but have impressed so far with their clubs. The other relatively new face is Pembroke Athleta defender Owen Bugeja, who had formed part of the squad for the game against Bulgaria last year.

Ghedin is expected to start with Andrew Hogg in goal, Steve Borg, Andrei Agius and Owen Bugeja as the three central defenders, Joseph Zerafa and Clayton Failla on the flanks, Roderick Briffa, Paul Fenech and Bjorn Kristensen in midfield with Andre Schembri supporting Alfred Effiong in attack.

This will be the third time, Malta meets Jordan. Malta hosted Jordan in a friendly match in a friendly match in April 1985 and then 2-1 in a game from the Rothmans Tournament in February 2002. However in recent years, Jordan did quite well and are currently ranked 82nd. They are unbeaten in nine matches and won the four World Cup qualifiers played so far against Tajikistan 3-1 and Bangladesh 4-0 in two matches away from home and 2-0 over Australia and 3-0 over Tajikistan in Amman.

Malta is planning to play another four friendly matches next year before the first World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Ta’ Qali in September 2016. Malta is hoping to play a friendly match in March, another two in May and one in August.