The Malta women’s team return to action this week when they host United Arab Emirates, representatives of the Asian Football Confederation, in two friendly matches, on Thursday, November 23 (kick-off: 2pm) and Sunday, November 26 (kick-off: 10.30am) at the Centenary Stadium.
Led by coach Mark Gatt, the Maltese girls last played an international match in April when they competed in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers where they also managed to beat Kosovo 3-1.
Gatt regards these friendlies as useful opportunities for his girls to enhance their international experience and boost their confidence.
“We haven’t played an international match for a long time and it is important to have these opportunities in order to maintain a good level on the international stage,” Gatt told www.mfa.com.mt.
“Matches like these enable us to get back together as a squad, restore our team dynamics and make sure that we strengthen them.”
Coach Gatt has to make do without a host of established players as defenders Ann-Marie Said and Rebecca Bajada, and attacking duo Ylenia Carabott and Kelly Pace, are sidelined with injuries.
He is confident that those players who will be given the chance to play will put on a positive performance in search of a good result.
“Despite the injuries, I have faith in my players. I will also use these friendlies to work on different tactical options,” Gatt said.
“It is important to have a versatile squad so that we can adjust to the demands of the match.”
UAE, on their part, are ranked 80th in the FIFA Women’s Rankings and unlike Malta, they have been involved in more than 10 international matches this season.
They featured in the 2018 Asian Cup qualifications where they claimed two victories over Iraq and Tajikistan, drew 1-1 against Bahrain and succumbed to two defeats against Jordan and the Philippines.
Winners of two WAFF Women’s Championship, organised by the West Asian Football Federation, UAE have several experienced players such as Noura Al-Mazrouei and also promising talents like Nouf Al-Adwan, 20, who plays her club football in Abu Dhabi and is considered as one of the best talents the country has ever produced.
Goalkeepers: Janice Xuereb (Birkirkara); Jodie Attard (Raiders); Maria Xuereb (Mosta); Rachel Lynn Borg, Patricia Debono (Mġarr United).
Defenders: Charlene Cassia (Mġarr United); Megan Jones (Yeovil Town); Stephania Farrugia, Alishia Sultana, Yasmeen Vella (Birkirkara); Charlene Zammit; Jade Flask (Hibernians).
Midfielders: Rodiana Borg, Mandy Debono, Emma Xuereb, Shona Zammit (Hibernians); Andrea Faye Zammit Cutajar (Raiders); Rachel Cuschieri (Anderlecht); Gabriella Zahra, Kim Parnis (Birkirkara); Emily Pace (Kirkop United).
Forwards: Dorianne Theuma (Hibernians); Martina Borg (Apulia Trani); Raina Giusti (Birkirkara).