The Malta Futsal Team left Malta on Monday, destination Norway for their Group B commitments in the UEFA European Qualifying Competition for the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2024.
Apart from hosts Norway, this World Cup Qualifying group in Trondheim also includes Cyprus and Denmark who are the first opponents for Malta on Wednesday, crossing swords at 15:00.
Preparation ahead of this daunting competition has not been seamless at all for coach Zeljko Anicic and his staff, with a long list of key players with experience at this international level all missing due to COVID, other illnesses or sports related injuries.
As a matter of fact Marwan Telissi, Karl Azzopardi, Jovica Milijic, Andre Ciancio, Michael Borg, Jean Noel Azzopardi and Andy Mangion who are all deemed as fundamental players in plans of coach Anicic for this tournament, have all missed the trip due to reasons already outlined.
Malta Futsal Team Coach Anicic said, “We always face difficult opponents, our aim in Norway is not to qualify but take each situation by situation, if we resolve them in our favour I am positive that we could be able to secure some positive performances and results”.
Meanwhile, Head of Futsal Department within the Malta FA Mark Marlow is leading matters in Norway together with Malta FA Vice President Dr. Matt Paris and Futsal Malta Association President Perit Mark Borg, all overseeing proceedings and representing the Association at this important tournament.
Marlow highlighted the preparations undergone by this group of athletes in recent months to be well prepared for this competition.
“We’ve been working hard for the last two years to be well prepared for this Qualifying tournament, pandemic has been a massive hurdle in our task, nonetheless with the multiple training stages conducted in recent months I believe that physically we are in a better shape to be able to chalk up a positive outcome and try to equal our performances in last qualifying competition held in Malta in January 2020 that also resulted in a milestone for the boys and the first ever point secured in a qualifying match after a 1-1 result against Greece”, said Marlow.
Back to the current squad, in total 15 players have made the trip to Norway, Luxol Futsal is the team mostly represented with a total of six players selected, also notable a call up for former Luxol player Giancarlo Sammut who is currently gaining more international experience playing his trade beyond our shores with Kingersheim Futsal in France ensuing a previous stint also abroad for Giancarlo with Team Lebork in the Polish League.
Malta Futsal Team 15-man squad selected for this Norway trip read as follows:-
Goalkeepers – Clint Mifsud (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Stefan Vella (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Dylan Cacciattolo (University of Malta).
Outfield players – Karl Sciortino (Valletta Futsal), Dale Valletta (University of Malta), Dylan Musu (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Matthew Attard (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Giancarlo Sammut (Kingersheim Futsal), George Frendo (Ta’ Xbiex Futsal), Melvin Borg (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Mark Zammit (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Ryan Muscat (Siġġiewi Futsal), Luke Gatt (Valletta Futsal), Cleaven Portelli (University of Malta Futsal), Armando Gjepali (Mellieħa SC Futsal).