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VELLA ANNOUNCES UNDER-21 SQUAD

Malta Under-21 coach Silvio Vella announced a 20-man squad for next week’s double header against Hungary and Cyprus.

The two matches, which will be played at the Centenary Stadium will be on October 12 against Hungary, while four days later meet Cyprus.

These two matches, both kicking off at 17.00, will bring an end to the Malta Under-21 team’s 2019 UEFA Championship qualifying campaign.

There are no major changes in the squad from last month’s home game against Belgium (0-4) which was followed with a 5-2 friendly upset to Georgia.

While the Malta Under-21s’ objective is to try and collect points from their final two qualifiers, Vella and his staff are also planning for the next edition as attested by the selection of several players who will still be eligible to play at Under-21 level for the next competition.

These include goalkeeper Andreas Vella, Jean Borg, Kurt Shaw, Michele Sansone, Nicholas Pulis, Myles Beerman, Matthew Guillaumier, Zach Brincat and Jan Busuttil.

Malta Under-21 captain Jake Grech has earned a call-up to the senior squad for next week’s UEFA Nations League Group D3 matches against Kosovo and Azerbaijan, joining Joseph Mbong and Juan Corbalan who can still play for the Under-21s.

“It goes without saying tha we will miss important players like Joseph Mbong, Juan Corbalan and Jake Grech but on the other hand, it’s always positive and pleasing to see young players promoted to the senior squad where they can continue their footballing development, raise their standards and improve their skills,” Vella said.

“The promotion of these three Under-21 players to the senior squad creates opportunities for the younger players who need to grab this chance to up their level and gain experience ahead of the next Under-21 competition.”

Vella also hopes to see more young players get more playing time in domestic competitions as this would enhance their match fitness.

“Our boys are fully committed and dedicated but the lack of playing time at club level is a concern as this has a negative effect both on their match fitness and mental approach,” the Malta Under-21 coach commented.

Vella is hopeful that his team will finally open their account in Group 6 but warned that Hungary and Cyprus will be no easy opponents.

“On paper, Hungary and Cyprus may not be considered as strong as the likes of Belgium and Sweden but they have gained positive results against the top teams and that says a lot about their potential,” Vella said.

“They will be difficult opponents for us but I’m sure that our players will be giving their all to do well in these games.

“If we manage to emulate our performances in the away games against Hungary and Cyprus, where we were unlucky to lose at the last minute, I’m confident that we can get something out of these qualifiers.”

SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS
Jake Galea (Sliema Wanderes); Andreas Vella (Mosta).

DEFENDERS
Jean Borg (Valletta); Kurt Shaw (Sliema Wanderes); Karl Micallef (Ħamrun Spartans); Kurt Zammit (Birkirkara); Michele Sansone (Sliema Wanderes); Nicholas Pulis (Valletta).

MIDFIELDERS
Myles Beerman (Birkirkara); Matthew Guillaumier (Birkirkara); Nikolai Muscat (Gżira United); Yannick Yankam (Qormi); Zachary Scerri (Gżira United); Dylan Agius (Pietà Hotspurs); Dunstan Vella (Hibernians).

FORWARDS
Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Zachary Brincat (Mosta); Jan Busuttil (Pietà Hotspurs); Kyrian Nwoko (Valletta); Christian Mercieca (Victoria Hotspurs).
 
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