Malta Football Association
Stern test but girls are relishing Italy challenge – Gatt
Oct 3, 2019
Posted in:
UEFA Women's EURO 2021 Qualifiers
Malta women's coach Mark Gatt and captain Dorianne Theuma. PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA
Malta women's coach Mark Gatt and captain Dorianne Theuma. PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA

  • Malta women's coach Mark Gatt and captain Dorianne Theuma. PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA
  • Italy women's coach Milena Bertolini and captain Sara Gama. PHOTOS: Joe Borg/MFA

The Malta women’s team play their first UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 qualifier on home soil when they host Italy, one of the Group B favourites, at the Centenary Stadium on Friday (kick-off: 17.30). 

The 14th-ranked Italy began their EURO qualifying campaign with narrow wins away to Israel (3-2) and Georgia (1-0) while Malta suffered away defeats to Denmark (0-8) and Bosnia & Herzegovina (0-2).


Coach Mark Gatt is looking forward to playing against Italy in front of the home fans at a time when the interest in the women’s game is growing.


“Following last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, the interest in women’s football has increased significantly,” Gatt said.


“Those who followed the tournament will have been impressed by the improvement Italy have made in recent years.


“Moreover, they were an entertaining team to watch and despite going out in the quarter-finals, they returned home with greater belief in their own capabilities.”


Gatt said the Maltese girls know that they are in for a very tough match but are relishing the opportunity of facing the 14th-ranked nation.


“We have set realistic targets for this game,” Gatt said.


“We want to be proud of our performance and our efforts after this high-profile appointment.


“It is fundamental that our players give their utmost and have no regrets after the game. These kind of matches provide added motivation and we need to make sure that we capitalise on this.


“I also hope that the fans attending the game will be entertained and pleased with our team’s performance.”


Gatt has selected five foreign-based players in his squad, namely Maria Farrugia, who is on the books of Sunderland AFC Ladies, PSV Eindhoven’s Rachel Cuschieri, Nicole Sciberras, of Juventus, Pink Bari’s Shona Zammit and Emma Lipman, of Florentia San Gimignano.


Lipman, who featured for the Malta Women’s Selection in the 2-1 friendly win over Bolton Ladies in May, has earned her first call-up.


Birkirkara’s Alishia Sultana has had to pull out due to an injury with fellow club-mate Veronique Mifsud coming in.




Lipman, 30, has gained a lot of knowledge about the Italian game, having also had spells at Verona and Roma.


“Italy have done so well at the Women’s World Cup and this was an amazing result for the championship and for the whole movement,” she explained.


“My new club, Florentia San Gimignano, have their own project and are trying to expand the brand as a single women’s team which is a really unique project and which means a lot for this small town – we had 1,500 fans in the first match and it was a very special moment.”


Meanwhile, Lipman praised the work of the people involved in the women’s game on our islands and is glad to be part of the national team after her trial against Bolton Ladies last May


“It has been a long process,” she said. “After my trial in May, I was very grateful for the chance and felt so humble in meeting a lot of people who are passionate about the women’s game.


“I wanted to be part of it, even though I did not know how long it would take to complete the process.”




Led by coach Milena Bertolini, Italy’s squad is composed of highly-talented players who grace the Serie A Femminile week in week out.


Among the players called up are skipper Sara Gama, Martina Rosucci, Aurora Galli and Cristina Girelli, all of Juventus, and Roma duo Elisa Bartolini and Annamaria Serturini - former team-mates of Lipman at the Giallorossi.


Following Friday’s qualifier, the Malta women’s team will return to action the following month with a home match against Israel (November 7) and Italy away at Castel di Sangro (November 12).

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