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Malta men’s national team to host Slovenia, Belarus in March double-header

Malta to host Slovenia, Belarus in March. Photo Domenic Aquilina

Slovenian selection to feature in this summer’s UEFA Euro 2024 in Germany.

Slovenia and Belarus will be Malta’s first tests of 2024 after the Malta FA announced that the men’s national team will host a couple of friendlies during the March international window, on Wednesday.

Michele Marcolini’s side, at the back of a zero-point UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, will face Slovenia on March 21 (kick-off: 19.00) before rubbing shoulders with Belarus five days later (kick-off: 19.00), with both games to be played at the National Stadium.

These two friendlies will serve Malta as preparation for the upcoming Nations League campaign where Marcolini’s team will feature in League D.

Malta, ranked 172nd, will discover its opponents in this competition on February 8 when the European football governing body – UEFA, holds the draw in Paris.

For Slovenia, sitting 45th in the FIFA rankings, this friendly match will help them in their preparations for this summer’s European Championships.

Coached by Matjaz Kek, Slovenia face Denmark, Serbia and runners-up of the last edition England in their group.

They have already launched their preparations over the last weekend with a victory against the United States in Texas, with Kek making use of a domestic-based side.

Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak and RB Leipzig sensation striker Benjamin Sesko are among the key stars expected to make the Malta trip.

Malta and Slovenia have already met eight times including in their recent encounter back in 2021 when the latter clinched a 4-0 victory in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifications.

Belarus, on their part, are ranked 95th after a solid European Championship qualifying campaign in which they finished fourth in their six-team Group I, picking up 12 points on the way.

In their last international window, back in November, they defeated both Andorra and Kosovo 1-0.

In the second part of their qualifiers, Belarus were forced to play their home games in a neutral venue – Hungary – amid their support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Back in April, UEFA had held off taking any decision to ban Belarus from its competitions due to its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine despite pressure from EU lawmakers.

The item was on the agenda of an executive committee meeting of European football’s governing body but Belarus had only been stripped of the hosting rights of the 2025 Women’s Under-19 European Championship.

The last time Belarus faced Malta was in 2008, claiming a narrow 1-0 victory in the Rothmans International Tournament.

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