The Malta Under-21 national team hosts Slovakia on Friday in the penultimate Group C match from the UEFA Under-21 Championship.
Following the exclusion of Russia from the tournament, Malta shares the third place with Northern Ireland and Lithuania on the 6-point mark, six behind second-placed Slovakia. Spain have already won the group, claiming maximum points from the six matches they played.
On the eve of this home encounter against Slovakia, Malta Under-21 coach Gilbert Agius outlined the journey so far and his merit to lead a few of this group of players from the wilderness of being too young, to already established domestic football players and rolling toward the National Team.
Adam Magri Overend and Mattia Veselji are already in the senior fold having started this competition with the Under-21 despite still eligible in this category.
Gilbert Agius highlighted, “This is all their credit, I’m not here to take plaudits, but primarily to help this group of players in their development and to impose themselves in our unified game philosophy, I’m sure their tenacity in performing well and improve will ultimately reap benefits going forward in their pursuit to join others who have already made the step-up.”
Coach Gilbert Agius added, “Slovakia are a solid side who are probably coming here mindful of their possibilities of qualifying therefore they would not want any slip-ups, however, my players have trained well, we have some players missing through injury, but I’m pretty confident we will perform well in the 90 minutes on Friday.”
“The final standings must be looked at when competition is over, we are fully concentrated at the moment on these two tough matches coming up.”
“We are pleased with the total number of points attained so far (double win over Northern Ireland), in this Group C, we would love to increase that tally, but our overriding commitment at the moment is to strongly prepare this crop of players to perform at their very best and put to practice in the 90 minutes on Friday, all the hard work they have executed over last days since we convened in this June window.” Gilbert Agius concluded.
22 man final squad for Slovakia match:–
Goalkeepers – Matthias Debono (Ħamrun Spartans FC), Amara Sylla (Birkirkara FC).
Defenders – Christian Gauci (Valletta FC), Zean Leonardi (Pieta’ Hotspurs FC), Glenn Mifsud (Żebbuġ Rangers FC), James Vella (San Ġwann FC), Carlo Zammit Lonardelli (Sirens FC).
Midfielders – Ayrton Attard (Hibernians FC), Jean-Paul Attard (Gżira United FC), Adam Bradshaw (Balzan FC), Aleandro Garzia (Floriana FC), Jake Ghio (Pieta’ Hotspurs FC),. Marcus Grima (Balzan FC), Sheldon Mackay (Valletta FC), Andreas Vella (Floriana FC).
Offensive players – Matthew Debattista (Melita FC), Shaun Dimech (Valletta FC), Joshua Micallef (Luqa SA FC), Dale Mifsud (San Ġwann FC), Bradley Sciberras (Floriana FC), Joseph Zammit (Nadur Youngsters FC), Andrea Zammit (Valletta FC).