Malta Football Association
History: Malta in UEFA Under-17 Tournaments
Oct 5, 2021
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Malta Under-17 in 2012
Malta Under-17 in 2012

  • Malta Under-17 in 2012
  • Malta Under-17 in Slovenia, 2018
  • Malta hosted final tournament in 2014
  • Malta Under-17 in 2018

The Malta Under-17 team will start their qualification tomorrow at the Tony Bezzina Stadium with a match against Turkey, kick off 11h. It will be the eight time that Malta is hosting an UEFA Under-17 (or Under-16) qualification group, while Malta was chosen to hosts the Final Tournament of the UEFA Under-17 European Championships in 2014. The last time Malta hosted a qualifying tournament group was in 2017.

The final Tournament will be played in Israel next year (16th May until 1st June), while apart from Turkey, Malta’s other two opponents in Qualification Group 1 are Denmark, who they will play in the second match on Saturday (kick off 16h) and Montenegro, Malta’s opponents in the last match on Tuesday (kick off also16h). The top two teams in the group will join top seeds Netherlands and Spain in the spring of 2022 in the elite round, along with the four third-placed teams with the best records against the top two in the group. There are 13 qualification groups with four UEFA nations each. Boys born 2005 and younger can represent their country during the whole cycle.

This is an annual UEFA Tournament, first held during season 1981/82, the 39th tournament in all, but the 21st time as an Under-17 tournament as in 2001, the UEFA changed the age eligibility from Under 16 to Under 17. Malta, under coach Fr Hillary Tagliaferro, participated in the qualification of the very first edition with four matches played in 1981, a group with four tough defeats against Italy (0-6, 0-5) and Switzerland (1-6, 0-8). Italy qualified from the group and eventually also became the first winners in 1982, beating West Germany in the final (1-0). Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the final Tournament was cancelled in 2019/20, while last season the complete campaign, for the same reasons, did not go ahead as planned. The Netherlands won therefore the last two Championships (2017/18 and 2018/19), while Spain won the most tournaments with 9 titles.

Malta did not participate in the next six tournament, but re-appeared in the arena in 1989 with a double header against Portugal in Round 1 of the qualification (0-1, 0-6) and since then have participated in every season the Championship was held. The first ever win for Malta in an official UEFA match was the win in the 1994/95 qualification group in Prague, beating Estonia 2-0 on 20 October 1994 with goals by Michael Galea and Mark D’Amato. In the team were also players like Stefan Giglio, George Mallia and Massimo Grima, who all represented Malta later on in their careers.

In total, Malta have played 90 official matches in the UEFA Under 16 and Under 17 Championships so far, winning seven matches in the process. However, Malta’s last win already dates back from the memorable 2010 edition, when Malta managed to qualify for the elite round in a tournament held in Andorra, beating The Netherlands 2-1 on 24 October 2009 with goals by Sacha Borg and Dylan D’Agostino. In that team were players like Zach Muscat, Michael Camilleri, Terence Agius and Bjorn Kristensen, with ex-Malta international Charles Xerri as coach. The goalless draw against Andorra mend that the team qualified as one of the best numbers 3 over-all.

Between 2008 and 2010, current Zejtun Corinthians defender Christian Grech has played most official matches for Malta, twenty, which is including official friendly matches and tournaments, apart from official UEFA Championships. Four players have made 19 official appearances for Malta at this age level: Terence Agius, Matthew Guillaumier, Juan Corbolan and Aidan Friggieri, who is still Malta’s all-time top scorer at this level with six goals, before Luke Montebello and Jurgen Degabriele with three goals each.

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