Malta Football Association
Malta U-21s braced for tough qualifier against Belgium
Mar 27, 2017
Posted in:
U/21 Qualifiers
The Malta U-21 squad in Belgium.
The Malta U-21 squad in Belgium.

The Malta U-21 team will be looking to put their disappointing performance in the friendly against Luxembourg behind them when they face Belgium in their opening 2017-19 European U-21 Championship Group Six qualifier this evening in Louvain (kick-off 8pm).

Silvio Vella, the Malta U-21 coach, is likely to have spent the past few days trying to raise his players’ spirits after the 5-0 defeat to Luxembourg last Thursday.


An early goal coupled with the 21st-minute dismissal of Jean Borg ruined Malta’s hopes of warming up for their encounter with Belgium with a positive performance. Vella will surely demand more focus from his team in tonight’s qualifier.


Borg, the Valletta midfielder who can also play in defence, is available for today’s game as his dismissal came in a friendly match but Tarxien Rainbows goalkeeper Philip Schranz will miss out after failing to recover from a dead leg.


Matthew Grech, the Floriana goalkeeper, has been drafted into the squad to provide cover for St Andrews custodian Jake Galea who is certain to start.


Jake Grech, the Malta U-21 captain, is also in line to start after entering the fray in the second half against Luxembourg as the playmaker has been recovering from a slight injury.


Although the Maltese youngsters have a massive task on their hands to replicate the success enjoyed by their predecessors in the last U-21 qualifying competition, Vella is hopeful that his team will grow as the campaign gathers momentum.


“From what I’ve seen so far, when we began the last competition, the main problem was that we had certain players in certain positions who were not playing for their clubs,” Vella told


“I’m seeing the same with this group.


“After the game on Monday (today), we will have a long break as we don’t have matches in June, but it could be the case that, in the intervening months, the situation might change significantly.


“Players may change clubs, also to find a new position and to get more playing time.


“The competition is spread over a period of two years, from the first friendly until the last match of the qualifying, and things can change a lot. However, we’re at the same level as the last competition.”


The other teams in Group Six are Sweden, Turkey, Hungary and Cyprus.


Malta and Belgium were also in the same pool in the 2017 European U-21 Championship qualifying trek. The Belgians won 2-0 at home and 3-2 at the Hibs Stadium.


Goalkeepers: Jake Galea (St Andrews); Matthew Grech (Floriana).
Defenders: Jean Borg (Valletta); Michele Sansone (Sliema Wanderers); Karl Micallef (Ħamrun Spartans); Nikolai Muscat (San Ġwann); Dunstan Vella (Hibernians); Kurt Zammit (Tarxien Rainbows).
Midfielders: Myles Beerman (Rangers, Scotland); Jurgen Suda (Pietà Hotspurs); Juan Corbalan (Gżira United); Jake Grech (Ħamrun Spartans); Matthew Guillaumier (Birkirkara); Zachary Scerri (Gżira United).
Forwards: Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians); Aidan Friggieri (St Andrews); Joseph Mbong (NK Inter Zapresic, Croatia); Kyran Nwoko (St Andrews).

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