Malta women’s coach Mark Gatt has named a squad of 20 players for the first edition of the VisitMalta Women’s Tournament, to be played at the Hibernians Stadium between February 18 and 23.
Malta, currently ranked 85th in the FIFA rankings, open their commitments against Slovakia, ranked 45th, on Thursday, February 18 (kick-off: 14.30). Gatt’s side face Sweden, number five in the world, in their second and final game on February 23 (kick-off: 15.00).
For this tournament, Gatt has made a few changes from the squad that featured in the final UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 qualifying wins Georgia and Israel late last year with his selection also including some new faces.
Gatt, whose contract has been renewed until the end of the upcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign, has called up Lazio duo Emma Lipman and Rachel Cuschieri, the latter only two games away from her 70th Malta cap.
Sassari Torres’ forward Martina Borg, whose appearance against Israel in December was her 40th at senior level, Nicole Sciberras, of Juventus, and Sunderland’s Maria Farrugia are also part of the squad but Ylenia Carabott, of Belgian club RCSC Charleroi, and Maya Lucia, of Raiders Għargħur are missing through injury.
US Sassuolo’s Haley Bugeja is unavailable as she is gradually recovering from a slight injury which has limited her playing time lately.
Kailey Willis, currently playing for Italian side Hellas Verona, has earned her first call-up at senior level after representing Malta at youth level.
Maltese champions Birkirkara are represented by goalkeeper Janice Xuereb, defenders Stephania Farrugia, Alishia Sultana – one game shy of her 40th cap – Ann-Marie Said and midfielder Veronique Mifsud.
Second-placed Swieqi United have six players in the squad, namely defensive trio Charlene Zammit, Jade Flask and Jade Schembri, on her first senior call-up, alongside midfielders Kayleigh Chetcuti, Shona Zammit and Emma Xuereb, who is two games away from totalling 60 games.
Gatt has also selected Mġarr United goalkeeper Patricia Ebejer and fellow club-mate, Brenda Borg together with Simone Buttigieg, who joined Kirkop United during the winter transfer window.
For Gatt, the upcoming matches will be his 49th and 50th games in charge of the Malta women’s national team since his appointment back in 2015.
Janice Xuereb (Birkirkara); Patricia Ebejer (Mġarr United).
Stephania Farrugia, Alishia Sultana, Ann-Marie Said (all Birkirkara); Charlene Zammit, Jade Flask, Jade Schembri (all Swieqi United), Emma Lipman (Lazio, Italy); Nicole Sciberras (Juventus, Italy).
Simone Buttigieg (Kirkop United); Emma Xuereb, Shona Zammit, Kayleigh Chetcuti (all Swieqi United); Veronique Mifsud (Birkirkara); Rachel Cuschieri (Lazio, Italy); Brenda Borg (Mġarr United).
Kailey Willis (Hellas Verona, Italy); Martina Borg (Sassari Torres, Italy); Maria Farrugia (Sunderland, England).