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Watch: Venezuela test useful for Malta ahead of Nations League games

Malta player take on final training session ahead of their match against Venezuela. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Malta men’s national team coach Devis Mangia is looking forward to seeing his team in action against a strong Venezuela side on Wednesday, at the National Stadium (kick-off: 19.00).

This international friendly will serve as a test for the Maltese team as they are preparing for their trio of Nations League matches between June 5 and June 12 – twice against San Marino and another against Estonia.

Mangia has been assessing his players since May when he gathered all the players who were finished with their domestic assignments. The players based in the teams that were competing in the FA Trophy and the ones plying their trade abroad joined the training camp later on.

The June international window is always a demanding one given that it is on the back of a long season in particular for the Malta-based players that participated in the European qualifications last summer namely Hibernians, Birkirkara, and Gżira United.

“We are working very well on the physical aspect with our technical staff,” Ryan Camenzuli told a news conference.

“It’s been a long season but at the same time, it is not an excuse for us.

“We are here to do our job and be at our best for these games, especially for the Nations League commitments which are very important – we have to show that we are strong and improving.”

For this friendly, coach Mangia trimmed his initial 33-man squad to 29 players. Included in the team for the friendly against Venezuela are Floriana duo Matias Garcia – who has just been granted his Maltese passport – and forward Mattia Veselji, who has been part of the U-21’s selection so far.

Moreover, St Johnstone’s James Brown is also part of the team as he is yet to make his debut with Malta despite having already been called up on other occasions but was hampered by injury.

Zach Muscat, fresh from his Portugal’s top-flight promotion with Casa Pia, Teddy Teuma – nominated for Belgium’s Player of the Year – and Matthew Guillaumier, who spent the second part of the season at Siena, are also called up. They are joined by Alexander Satariano, who was on loan at Pergolettese during the business end of the 2021/2022 season.

“All the players are in a different physical condition but they are working well,” Mangia said.

Asked about the objectives of Malta against Venezuela, Mangia pointed out that he wants his players to produce a solid showing against a very strong team like Venezuela.

“Venezuela have a lot of good players that play in the best leagues across Europe but we will try to impose our game as usual,” Mangia explained.

“This game is very useful for us because we can give some minutes to the players that need to add more playing time to their legs.

At the same time, we can give a chance to some other players to showcase themselves on the international level.”

On the other hand, this is the first time that Malta will be facing Venezuela in an international match.

The South American side, who are currently ranked 58th, never made it to the World Cup finals, and placed fifth in the Copa America in 1967 and fourth in 2011.

Venezuela, coached by Jose Pekerman, are coming from a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign which saw them finish bottom of the 10-team competition, collecting 10 points from 18 matches.

For this friendly, Pekerman named his best players including former Juventus player Tomas Rincon, Everton player Solomon Rondon and former Toronto FC winger Yeferson Soteldo.

The match against Malta is part of a European tour which will also see Venezuela play a friendly match against Saudi Arabia later on in June.

MALTA SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS
Henry Bonello (Ħamrun Spartans), Cain Formosa (San Ġwann), Jake Galea (Balzan).

DEFENDERS
Ferdinando Apap (Hibernians), Jean Borg (Valletta), Steve Borg (Ħamrun Spartans), James
Brown (St. Johnstone FC – Scotland), Karl Micallef (Ħamrun Spartans FC), Zach Muscat (Casa Pia – Portugal), Enrico Pepe (Birkirkara).

MIDFIELDERS
Cain Attard (Birkirkara), Ryan Camenzuli (Floriana), Juan Carlos Corbalan (Ħamrun Spartans), Matias Garcia (Floriana FC), Matthew Guillaumier (Siena – Italy), Adam Magri Overend (Floriana), Joseph Mbong (Ħamrun Spartans FC), Nikolai Muscat (Gżira United), Brandon Paiber (Floriana), Teddy Teuma (R.U. Saint Gilloise – Belgium), Dunstan Vella (Hibernians).

FORWARDS
Jan Busuttil (Floriana), Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians), Luke Gambin (Ħamrun Spartans), Jake Grech (Hibernians), Paul Mbong (Birkirkara), Luke Montebello (Birkirkara), Alexander Satariano (U.S. Pergolettese 1932 – Italy), Mattia Veselji (Floriana FC).

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