The Malta Under-17 national team held their Macedonian counterparts to a goalless draw in a friendly match played on Thurday evening at the MFA Training Grounds.
This was the first of two warm-up matches for the Malta U-17 squad ahead of their participation in the Trofeo Nereo Rocco Tournament in Italy next week.
These commitments are in preparation for the UEFA U-17 European Championship Qualification matches which will see the Maltese youngsters play Malta against Austria, hosts Slovenia and Bulgaria on the 24th, 27th and 30th October respectively.
Thursday’s match was a balanced affair with the visitors only having a slight physical advantage over the Maltese but without creating many opportunities.
The home side, led by coach Noel Turner, managed to create some chances and gave a very good account of themselves. The forward line composed of Mattia Veselji, newcomer Victor Degiorgio and Jake Bone, made sure that the Macedonian defence needed to be on the alert throughout the match while the defence, well-marshalled by goalkeeper Miguel Spiteri, held firm.
The first chance arrived in the ninth minute with Macedonia’s Azer Omeragikj just missing target after a good move. Two minutes later, a great header by Veselji, following an attack on the left flank, was saved by Macedonia goalkeeper Marko Alchesvki. Barely a minute later, Rrezart Kokollari hit the post for the visitors after a flowing attack on the right.
The second half started on a bad note for the Maltese team as centre-back Matthew Ellul had to leave the pitch injured following a collision with a Macedonian player.
Ellul was replaced by Isaac Galea who carried out his duties with flying colours for the rest of the game.
Fourteen minutes into the second half, Ivan NIkolov could have put Macedonia 1-0 up but his shot from just inside the box was wide.
With eight minutes on the clock, Malta has the best opportunity of the match. They were quick to break on the counter with Jake Bone releasing midfielder Jordan Kelly who used his speed and agility to power forward. Kelly came face-to-face with the goalkeeper but his low effort was deflected away for a corner by goalkeeper Alchevski.
The second friendly between the U-17 teams of Malta and Macedonia will be played on Saturday (tomorrow) at 18.00 at the MFA training grounds.
MALTA Miguel Spiteri, Sheldon Mizzi, Matthew Ellul (Isaac Galea 45’), Owen Spiteri, Ismael Borg (Gianluca Borg 71’), Emerson Camilleri (Gianluca Sciberras 79’), Karl Mohnani, Jordan Kelly, Victor Degiorgio (Kurt Briffa 50’), Mattia Veselji (Leo Agius 71’), Jake Bone.