Former international defender John Buttigieg and midfielder Carmel Busuttil have taken charge of the Malta national team with Dušan Fitzel having stepped down with immediate effect for personal reasons.
Buttigieg, 45, and his new assistant Carmel Busuttil have been given a five-year mandate. "It is a great honour to be handed the responsibility of managing Malta," Buttigieg said. "Now it is up to us both to show that we are ready for the job and to commit to the responsibility of such a prestigious role in Maltese football."
Buttigieg, who coached Birkirkara FC last season, was capped 97 times for Malta between 1987 and 2000 and also played in England with Brentford FC and Swindon Town FC. Busuttil, also 45, remains Malta's top international goalscorer with 23 goals in 113 appearances for his country. Named as Malta's Golden Player in 2004 as part of UEFA's Golden Jubilee celebrations, 'Busu' also played abroad, scoring 45 goals in 166 games for Belgian side KRC Genk.
Buttigieg is the first locally-born coach to take charge of the national team since Pippo Psaila, who led Malta from 1991 to 1993. Malta Football Association president Dr Joseph Mifsud confirmed that his predecessor, Slovakian national Fitzel, 46, had stood down from his role with immediate effect for personal reasons, having been in charge since 2006. The highlights of his reign included a 2-1 UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying win against Hungary – Malta's first competitive victory since 1993 - and a 2-2 draw against Turkey in the same competition. Malta currently have one point from eight FIFA World Cup qualifiers and end their Group 1 campaign with the 9 September visit of Sweden and a trip to Portugal on 14 October.
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