The Malta Futsal Team on Monday morning travelled to Norway for their Group B commitments in the UEFA European Qualifying Competition for the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2024.
Apart from hosts Norway, this World Cup Qualifying group in Trondheim also includes Cyprus and Denmark who are the first opponents for Malta on Wednesday, crossing swords at 3pm.
Preparation ahead of this daunting competition hasn’t been seamless at all for coach Zeljko Anicic and his staff, with a long list of key players with experience at this international level all missing due to Covid, other illnesses or sports related injuries.
As a matter of fact, Marwan Telissi, Karl Azzopardi, Jovica Milijic, Andre Ciancio, Michael Borg, Jean Noel Azzopardi and Andy Mangion, who are all deemed as fundamental players in plans of coach Anicic for this tournament, have all missed the trip.
Malta Futsal coach Anicic said: “We always face difficult opponents, our aim in Norway is not to qualify but take each situation by situation, if we resolve them in our favour I am positive that we could be able to secure some positive performances and results.”
Meanwhile, Head of Futsal Department within the Malta FA, Mark Marlow is leading the contingent in Norway along with Malta FA vice-president Matthew Paris and Futsal Malta Association president Mark Borg.
Marlow highlighted the preparations undergone by the players in recent months to be well prepared for this competition.
“We’ve been working hard for the last two years to be well prepared for this qualifying tournament, the COVID-19 has been a massive hurdle in our task.
“Nonetheless with the multiple training stages conducted in recent months I believe that physically we are in a better shape to be able to chalk up a positive outcome and try to equal our performances in last qualifying competition held in Malta in January 2020 that also resulted in a milestone for the boys and the first-ever point secured in a qualifying match after a 1-1 result against Greece”, Marlow said.
In total 15 players have made the trip to Norway. Luxol Futsal is the team mostly represented with a total of six players selected. A notable call up is former Luxol player Giancarlo Sammut who is currently gaining more international experience as he is plying his trade with Kingersheim Futsal in France.
Goalkeepers: Clint Mifsud (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Stefan Vella (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Dylan Cacciattolo (University of Malta).
Outfield players: Karl Sciortino (Valletta Futsal), Dale Valletta (University of Malta), Dylan Musu (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Matthew Attard (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Giancarlo Sammut (Kingersheim Futsal), George Frendo (Ta’ Xbiex Futsal), Melvin Borg (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Mark Zammit (Luxol St. Andrews Futsal), Ryan Muscat (Siġġiewi Futsal), Luke Gatt (Valletta Futsal), Cleaven Portelli (University of Malta Futsal), Armando Gjepali (Mellieħa SC Futsal).