Malta coach Devis Mangia has named a 30-man squad for the opening 2022 World Cup European Qualifiers at home to Russia and away to Slovakia and Croatia later this month.
The national team is due to host Russia in their Group H curtain-raiser at the National Stadium on Wednesday, March 24 (kick-off 20.45) before heading out to Slovakia for the second match on March 27 following by another away commitment against 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia three days later. The other teams in Malta’s group are Slovenia and Cyprus.
This month’s European qualifiers will be the first commitments for the national team since their positive UEFA Nations League group campaign which saw Malta finish second in Group D1 with a total of nine points.
Mangia, who has guided Malta to seven consecutive positive results between September and November last year, has again opted for a mix of experienced and young players, confirming his faith in up-and-coming talents like Valletta’s Shaun Dimech, Birkirkara’s Paul Mbong, back in the frame after missing the November internationals, and Sliema Wanderers’ Alexander Satariano, all aged 19.
Gżira United midfielder Nikolai Muscat has earned his first call-up to the national squad under Mangia while team-mate Nevin Portelli has been selected for the first time. Birkirkara defender Enrico Pepe and Gżira United’s Dexter Xuereb have earned a recall.
Mangia’s squad selection features three foreign-based players, namely defender Zach Muscat, who plays for Portuguese club Casa Pisa AC, midfielder Teddy Teuma, who plays for Belgian First Division B leaders Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, and winger Luke Gambin who is on the books of English League Two club Newport County AFC.
Henry Bonello (Valletta); Matthew Calleja Cremona (Hibernians); Jake Galea (Sliema Wanderers).
Andrei Agius (Hibernians); Steve Borg (Gżira United); Karl Micallef (Ħamrun Spartans); Zach Muscat (Casa Pia AC – Portugal); Enrico Pepe (Birkirkara); Kurt Shaw (Sliema Wanderers).
Myles Beerman (Sliema Wanderers); Ryan Camenzuli (Floriana); Triston Caruana (Valletta); Juan Corbalan (Ħamrun Spartans); Matthew Guillaumier (Ħamrun Spartans); Bjorn Kristensen (Hibernians); Joseph Mbong (Ħamrun Spartans); Nikolai Muscat (Gżira United); Steven Pisani (Gżira United); Nevin Portelli (Gżira United); Teddy Teuma (Royale Union Saint-Gilloise – Belgium); Dexter Xuereb (Gżira United).
Jan Busuttil (Floriana); Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Shaun Dimech (Valletta); Luke Gambin (Newport County AFC – England); Jake Grech (Hibernians); Paul Mbong (Birkirkara); Luke Montebello (Birkirkara); Kyrian Nwoko (Valletta); Alexander Satariano (Sliema Wanderers).