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Coach Tesse selects Malta women squad for Bosnia-Herzegovina matches

Maria Farrugia (right) in action for Malta against Portugal in the European qualifiers. Photo: Malta Football Association

Manuela Tesse has selected 23 players as the Malta women’s national team gear up their preparations for a crucial double-header against Bosnia-Herzegovina, this Friday and next Tuesday.

The Italian tactician has kept faith with the core of players that held Northern Ireland to a 0-0 draw and fought bravely in their 2-0 defeat against giants Portugal.

Included in the squad is Birkirkara captain Stephania Farrugia who has just picked up the Malta FA Player of the Year award.

She is joined by seven other Birkirkara members with whom she won the domestic treble in the 2023/2024 campaign.

Swieqi United captain Dorianne Theuma will be part of the team for the last time after announcing that she will hang up her boots at the end of this season.

A notable absence from the squad is Birkirkara goalkeeper Janice Xuereb as she is nursing an ACL injury.

Como’s Maya Cachia and Patricia Ebejer of Mġarr United are the two goalkeepers selected by Tesse.

After two matches, Malta sit third in the group with a single point while Bosnia-Herzegovina are anchored at the bottom without points.

The top three teams at the end of this first phase advance to the European Championship play-offs.

Bosnia, on their part, have announced their squad as well, spearheaded by captain Milena Nikolic who has just been named Switzerland’s best player.

The former Bayer Leverkusen forward is on the books of Basel with whom she scored 10 goals in 14 matches.

Other key players included in the squad are Braga’s defender Melisa Hasanbegovic, formerly of Sporting, Juventus’ youth player Gloria Sliskovic and Inter duo and Haley Bugeja’s team mates Marija Ana Milinkovic and Maja Jelcic.

The team includes members from Bosnia’s giants SFK 2000 who have recently won their 22nd national championship – a run that started in 2002/2003 and which is a Guinness World Record in women’s football.

The Bosnian selection is coached by Selver Hodzic, a former player who has featured in the 2005/2006 Champions League with Switzerland’s FC Thun.

In that campaign, Hodzic rubbed shoulders with eventual finalists Arsenal twice and scored a dramatic 89th-minute winner against Sparta Prague.

Bosnia and Malta have a long history in the women’s game, with the two nations facing each other in the recent Euro 2021 and World Cup 2023 qualifications.

MALTA SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS                                   
Maya Cachia (Como, Italy), Patricia Ebejer (Mġarr United).

DEFENDERS                                                       
Rebecca Bajada (Mġarr United), Maia Debono (Mġarr United), Stephania Farrugia (Birkirkara), Emma Lipman (Como, Italy), Valentina Rapa (Birkirkara), Ann Marie Said (Birkirkara), Charlene Zammit (Birkirkara).

MIDFIELDERS                                     
Brenda Borg (Mġarr United), Rachel Cuschieri (Sampdoria, Italy), Veronique Mifsud (Birkirkara), Nicole Sciberras (Hibernians), Dorianne Theuma (Swieqi United), Gabriella Zahra (Birkirkara), Shona Zammit (Swieqi United).

STRIKERS                                           
Haley Bugeja (Inter, Italy), Maria Farrugia (Lewes FC, England), Jade Flask (Swieqi United), Maya Lucia (NK Osijek, Croatia), Sara Saliba (Birkirkara), Alishia Sultana (Birkirkara), Kailey Willis (Venezia, Italy).

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