Farrugia opts for a blend of youth and experience in Malta squad

Farrugia opts for a blend of youth and experience in Malta squad

Joseph Zerafa during Malta's training session on Friday.

Joseph Zerafa during Malta's training session on Friday.

Malta coach Ray Farrugia has included six Under-21 players in his final squad for the training camp in Austria and next week’s friendly matches against Armenia and Georgia.

Farrugia, who succeeded Belgian Tom Saintfiet at the helm of the national team earlier this month, has opted for a mix of youth and experience as the U-21 prospects are flanked by experienced players like captain Michael Mifsud, who has made over 125 appearances for the national team, Andrew Cohen, winner of the 2017-18 MFA Footballer of the Year Award, and Roderick Briffa.

The Maltese contingent departs for Austria this afternoon ahead of their first friendly match against Armenia in Wattens on Tuesday and Georgia in Schwaz on Friday. Both games kick off at 19.00.

Malta’s preparations have been hit hard by injuries as Apollon Limassol forward Andrè Schembri, Arezzo defender Zach Muscat, Hibernians midfield duo Bjorn Kristensen and Johann Bezzina, FC Chiasso forward Jean Paul Farrugia and Birkirkara’s Cain Attard have been ruled out of the upcoming training camp.

“We are missing several important players,” Farrugia told www.mfa.com.mt.

“Andrè Schembri, Zach Muscat, Bjorn Kristensen, Johann Bezzina, Jean Paul Farrugia and Cain Attard are sidelined with injuries.

“Although this is a setback for us, we have called six young players from the Malta Under-21 squad and this is a positive step, one that augurs well for the future of the national team.

“This a great opportunity for young players to settle in the squad, train with their more experienced counterparts and also gain useful match practice at international level.

“The training camp and friendlies in Austria are very important for our preparations for the UEFA Nations League.”

Having announced a provisional squad of 26 players earlier this month, Farrugia and his assistant Branko Nisevic promoted another two players from the Malta Under-21 squad, striker Jurgen Degabriele and midfielder Dunstan Vella.

They join Birkirkara midfielder Jake Grech, Hibs wing-back Joseph Mbong, Valletta striker Kyrian Nwoko and Myles Beerman, the young flank player who recently renewed his contract with Scottish club Rangers.

There are two Gozitan players in the 23-strong senior squad, goalkeeper Steve Sultana, who plays for Ħamrun Spartans, and Victoria Hotspurs defender Ferdinando Apap.

The training camp in Austria and the warm-up games against Armenia and Georgia are a key part of Malta’s build-up for the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

Malta has been drawn in Group D3 along with Azerbaijan, the Faroe Islands and Kosovo.


Goalkeepers: Henry Bonello (Valletta); Andrew Hogg (Hibernians); Steve Sultana (Ħamrun Spartans).

Defenders: Andrei Agius (Hibernians); Ferdinando Apap (Victoria Hotspurs); Steve Borg (Valletta); Ryan Camilleri (Valletta); Michael Johnson (Balzan); Jurgen Pisani (Floriana); Joseph Zerafa (Valletta).

Midfielders: Myles Beerman (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Roderick Briffa (Gżira United); Paul Fenech (Balzan); Luke Gambin (Luton Town, England); Jake Grech (Birkirkara); Joseph Mbong (Hibernians); Stephen Pisani (Floriana); Dunstan Vella (Hibernians).

Forwards: Andrew Cohen (Gżira United); Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Alfred Effiong (Balzan); Michael Mifsud (Valletta); Kyrian Nwoko (Valletta).

Malta coach Ray Farrugia (left) alongside Ivan Vella, team manager of the national team.Malta coach Ray Farrugia (left) alongside Ivan Vella, team manager of the national team.

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