Malta girls target boost ahead of World Cup qualifiers in April
March 8, 2017: Mark Gatt, the national women’s coach, has selected an 18-strong squad for the Aphrodite Cup, being played in Cyprus between March 11 and 16.
The players called up by Gatt have been training on a daily basis ahead of their departure to Larnaca this Thursday.
Malta kick off their commitments with a match against Latvia on Saturday, a direct clash between the two nations currently sharing the 96th position in the FIFA women’s rankings. On Monday, Malta face hosts Cyprus, ranked 106th on the FIFA list, in their second group match.
Gatt’s girls will then play a classification game, depending on their final position in the group standings. Their potential opponents are Lithuania, Estonia and Bahrain.
“This will be the last opportunity for our players to underline their form ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup preliminary round matches,” Gatt told www.mfa.com.mt.
“Furthermore, this tournament will enable our girls to gain more international experience as we are playing three games in five days. Having all the squad together in Cyprus should help the players improve their teamwork.
“Finally, we hope to achieve further progress and boost our form and fitness for the World Cup qualifiers by the time we return home from this tournament in Cyprus.”
The majority of the players in the travelling party are on the books of Division One high-flyers Birkirkara and Hibernians with Rachel Cuschieri, who plays for Apollon Ladies in Cyprus, the only foreign-based player in the squad.
Cuschieri will join her international team-mates in Cyprus.
As part of their preparations for the Aphrodite Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup preliminary round qualifiers, against Greece, Albania and Kosovo between April 6 and 11, the Malta women’s team played two friendly games against Lithuania at the Centenary Stadium last month.
The Maltese girls suffered a 3-0 defeat in the first warm-up but made amends after winning the second match 1-0.
Goalkeepers: Rachel Borg (Mġarr United), Janice Xuereb (Birkirkara).
Defenders: Rebecca Bajada (Hibernians), Stephania Farrugia (Birkirkara), Jade Flask (Hibernians), Ann-Marie Said (Birkirkara), Gabriella Zahra (Birkirkara), Charlene Zammit (Hibernians), Yasmeen-Marie Vella (Birkirkara).
Midfielders: Alishia Sultana (Birkirkara), Kim Parnis (Birkirkara), Dorianne Theuma (Hibernians), Shona Zammit (Hibernians), Brenda Borg (Mġarr United), Rachel Cuschieri (Apollon Ladies).
Forwards: Ylenia Carabott (Hibernians), Kelly Agius Pace (Birkirkara), Martina Borg (Hibernians).
Pierre Brincat – Team Manager
Mark Gatt – Head Coach
Dionne Tonna – Assistant Coach
Roger Camilleri – Goalkeepers’ Coach
Alfred Zammit – Kit Manager
Joseph Pace – Doctor
Lorella Marie Debono – Physiotherapist
MFA COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE