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Preview: Malta - Macedonia

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Malta vs MacedoniaMalta vs MacedoniaMacedonia is away in Ta' Qali where Wednesday night will face Malta in the last friendly game before the begining of the EURO 2012 qualifications.

Today at 20.00 CET at the Ta' Qali National Stadium in the small town of Ta' Qali, Macedonia will play Malta. The stadium has a capacity of 17.000 and the ticket prize is 8€ whilst for women and children only 4€. Referee will be Gabriele Rossi from San Marino assisted by Konrad Borg, Mariano Debono and Chris Lautier as fourth official. This will be the last chance for national team coach Mirsad Jonuz to prepare the team, to try new tactics and test new players because in early September comes the real task, the first two qualification games for EURO 2012.

Nikola Gligorov, the captain of Rabotnicki is ready to have his debut in the national team, since he was called to replace standard midfielder Velice Sumulikoski who was negotiating a transfer in Russian side Sibir. Most probably Jonuz won't risk anything and will start Gligorov from the bench. Goran Pandev is back in the squad after he missed the last two friendlies in June, as well as striker Ilco Naumoski.

Macedonia and Malta have already met, playing 5 games, 3 of which were friendly and 2 qualifying. The last game was 8 years ago in Skopje, when Macedonia won 5:0. Three of the current Macedonian players have Malta in their dear memories. Goran Pandev and Aco Stojkov scored their first national team goals, while Stojkov had his debut on that game as well as defender Boban Grncarov. So, this trio will always remember Malta for good.

27 March 1996 Macedonia - Malta 1:0
27 November 1996 Malta - Macedonia 0:2
06 September 1998 Macedonia - Malta 4:0
18 November 1998 Malta - Macedonia 1:2
21 August 2002 Macedonia - Malta 5:0

Macedonia have won all the 5 matches, scored 14 goals and received only one.

Malta have a long tradition of national team football, but the succes is missing. The Malta Football Association is one of the oldest in the world, formed 110 years ago, in 1900, but had to wait until 1959 to get accepted by FIFA. Their first international game was played in 1957 when they lost 2:3 from Austria at home. They have participated in every qualifications for the EUROs except the first one held in 1960. They started their World Cup qualifying mission for the first time in the qualifications for the 1974 World Cup, but they never managed to qualify for both World Cup or EURO. In the very last qualifications, for the World Cup in South Africa, Malta managed to get only a point and finished dead last in the Group 1 where they faced Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Hungary and Albania. Their only draw was 0:0 against Albania at home. In the qualifications for EURO 2012, Malta is in the Group F together with Croatia, Greece, Israel, Latvia and Georgia. They will start their campaign away to Israel.

Malta squad for the game:

Goalkeepers
Andrew Hogg - Valletta
Mario Muscat - Hibernians

Defenders
Andrei Agius - Melfi, Italy
Shaun Bajada - Birkirkara
Jonathan Caruana - Valletta
Edward Herrera - Hibernians
Carlo Mamo - Birkirkara

Midfielders
Roderick Briffa - Valletta
Clayton Failla - Sliema Wanderers
Paul Fenech - Birkirkara
Ryan Fenech - Sliema Wanderers
Massimo Grima - Ħamrun Spartans
Jamie Pace - Valletta
Kevin Sammut - Valletta
Gareth Sciberras - Marsaxlokk

Forwards
Danijel Bogdanović - Sheffield United, England
Andrew Cohen - Hibernians
Michael Mifsud - Valletta

Coach: John Buttigieg

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