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Ivan Woods names his first U-21’s national team squad for Euro qualifiers

The U-21’s men’s national team will launch their new European Championship qualifications under the guidance of Ivan Woods, recently appointed in charge of the youth side.

Woods’ reign will start with two daunting tasks as Malta hosts giants Spain – September 8 – and Hungary – September 12 – in their opening two qualifiers in September.

Both matches will take place at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

Belgium, Scotland and Kazakhstan are Malta’s other opponents in this Group B which will lead to the 2025 edition of the U-21’s championships.

In his first call up as U-21’s coach, Woods has picked a number of players that were part of the U-19’s selection that took part in the recent Euros hosted on our shores.

These are former Olympique Marseille goalkeeper Hugo Sacco, Jake Micallef, Andy Borg, Benjamin Hili, Basil Tuma of Reading and Brooklyn Borg.

Sacco, who impressed during the U-19’s European Championships, has just relocated to the United States where he will play for Eastern New Mexico University in the NCAA DII.

Meanwhile, Tuma has already made two appearances for Reading’s first team in both the League One and the EFL Cup this season.

Andy Borg and Brooklyn Borg, on their part, were part of Gzira United’s journey in the Europa Conference League where they eliminated Glentoran – with Andy scoring in the first leg – and Dudelange before exiting the competition after losing to Viktoria Plzen.

Jed Valletta, product of Birkirkara, is also included in this selection after his recent move to Sta Lucia.

A total of 30 players were called in this provisional squad which will be trimmed ahead of their two home qualifications.

SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS: Dylan Ciappara (Mosta), Reeves Cini (Pieta’ Hotspurs), Matthias Debono (Naxxar Lions), Hugo Sacco (Eastern New Mexico University, USA).

DEFENDERS: Matthew Ellul (Żabbar St.Patrick), Zean Leonardi (Pieta Hotspurs), Mattias Ellul (Santa Lucia), Owen Spiteri (Floriana), Deacon Abela (Swieqi United), Karl Mohnani (Melita), James Vella (Sliema Wanderers).

MIDFIELDERS: Jake Micallef (Boavista, Portugal), Kurt Bondin (Żebbuġ Rangers), Matthew Debattista (Melita), Andy Borg (Gżira United), Nick Cutajar (Melita), Dale Mifsud (Marsaxlokk), Gianluca Sciberras (Mosta), Aleandro Garzia (Floriana), Kurt Briffa (Pieta’ Hotspurs), Owen Sciberras (Żabbar St.Patrick), Benjamin Hili (Balzan), Nikolai Micallef (Naxxar Lions).

FORWARDS: Jamie Carbone (Santa Lucia), Basil Tuma (Reading, England), Mattia Veselji (Floriana), Andrea Zammit (Valletta), Jake Engerer (Sliema Wanderers), Jed Valletta (Santa Lucia), Brooklyn Borg (Gżira United).         

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