Malta have named a 22-man squad for the forthcoming EURO 2004™ qualifiers against Israel and France, with coach Siegfried Held demanding an improvement on last month's defeat by Slovenia.
Malta face a double header next week, with Group 1 rivals Israel and France visiting the National Stadium in Ta' Qali within four days of one other on 12 and 16 October.
Must do better
It is a prospect the German-born Held faces with optimism. The coach insisted after the 3-0 reverse in Slovenia that there was more to come from his squad. "I was not satisfied with the defeat," he said. "Our performance was adequate but I want my players to do more to earn the respect of our opponents."
"Malta will always be regarded as the underdogs in international competition but we have to make life difficult for any side who plays against us," he continued.
Vote of confidence
The coach's vote of confidence is twofold, as he has stuck mainly by the players who lost in Ljubljana. Striker Michael Mifsud, who is based in Germany with 1. FC Kaiserslautern, has recovered from a broken nose while namesake Miguel Mifsud of Hibernians FC has brushed aside a groin problem to take his place in the group.
Brincat set for century
Meanwhile, Sliema Wanderers FC midfield player Joe Brincat has overcome a niggling hamstring injury and could earn his 100th cap. Brincat returns after missing the last four internationals. But club mate Carlo Mamo is dropped, while FC Lokomotiv Sofia's Stefan Giglio is suspended having been sent off in Slovenia.
The fixtures are Malta's first senior internationals against either country. Israel won three of their four previous friendly meetings with the Maltese, the other ending in a draw.
Darmanin, Muscat, Carabott, Chetcuti, Ciantar, Debono, Dimech, Said, Theuma, Agius, Brincat, Camenzuli, Camilleri, Holland, Mallia, Turner, Bogdanovic, Licari, Michael Mifsud, Miguel Mifsud, Adrian Mifsud, Nwoko.
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