The Malta women’s Under-17 team head to Belarus on Friday to play in the 2020 UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship qualifying round, between September 15 and 21. Hosts Belarus, France and Iceland are Malta’s opponents in Group 3.
Coach Dorianne Theuma, who is assisted by fellow Malta international, Charlene Zammit, named a squad of 20 players for this mini-tournament.
The Maltese girls open their group commitments with a daunting challenge against France, ranked fourth in the FIFA women’s senior rankings, at the Spartak Stadium in Mogilev on Sunday at 11am (Malta time). At U-17 level, France are traditionally among the main contenders for silverware. In recent years, the French girls were runners-up in the 2012 U-17 Euros before winning the World Cup in the same category that year.
On Wednesday, Malta take on Iceland at the same venue, with the match kicking off at 11am (Malta time). The much-improved Iceland team, ranked 17th in the world, made it to the Elite round of the previous competition, beating Italy 2-1 in the process.
Malta wrap up their commitments against hosts Belarus at the Spartak Stadium on September 21 at 13.00 (Malta time).
The Malta U-17 girls’ squad have been preparing for this tournament in the best way possible, having participated in two international tournaments in late 2018 and early 2019.
Last December, the Malta Under-15 team, featuring several players who are part of the U-17 group, beat Singapore and Mongolia in a UEFA Development Tournament, held in Thailand. In March, the Maltese girls topped the UEFA Youth Development Tournament after wins over Gibraltar, Andorra and Albania at the Centenary Stadium.
For the 2019-20 UEFA Women’s U-17 qualifying tournament, Theuma can bank on players who have had international experience in both youth and senior categories.
The U-17 selection includes three players who this summer were part of the senior team’s pre-season camp prior to their opening Women’s Euro 2021 qualifiers in Denmark and Bosnia & Herzergovina. These are Mġarr United’s Haley Bugeja, the top scorer of the 2018-2019 U-19 and senior leagues, and Birkirkara duo Kailey Willis and Veronique Mifsud, with the latter also called up by senior coach Mark Gatt for the senior team’s qualifiers.
MALTA WOMEN’S U-17 SQUAD
Maya Cachia (Birkirkara); Justyne Caruana (Raiders Għargħur); Giulia D’Antuono (Mosta).
Alexandra Gatt (Mġarr United); Laura Chetcuti Dimech (Raiders Għargħur); Martina Fenech, Izabella Camilleri, Mariah Cardona (all Birkirkara); Rhea Borg (Mosta).
Gaia Antonelli, Maya Lucia, Emma Philippa Ciantar (all Raiders Għargħur); Hannah Khatib, Elena Sissons (Swieqi United); Martina Cortis, Veronique Mifsud (Birkirkara); Haley Bugeja (Mġarr United); Georgiana Mifsud (Hibernians).
Laura Hannah Muscat (Raiders Għargħur); Kailey Willis (Birkirkara).