- Nigerian goalkeeper Murphy Akanji will be playing once again for Sliema next season after agreeing to sign a new contract with the Blues.
The twenty-seven year old former international goalkeeper has been playing with the Blues for the past three years.
Their other two foreigners on their books for the past two years will be staying with the Wanderers. Orosco Anonam is still under contract while Danilo Doncic signed a new two-year deal.
Akanji's deputy will be former Malta international goalkeeper Ernest Barry. He returns with the club after a three-year absence.
In fact after playing for nine years with the Wanderers, Barry had decided to hang his boots in August 2001 when even a testimonial match was put on for this occasion. However a couple of weeks later, he changed his mind and joined Pietà Hotspurs.
His stay at Pietà lasted just a few weeks as he then moved to Valletta. Last season, Ernest Barry was released by Valletta and joined Balzan Youths.
- Gzira United Football Club announced that they have appointed Mr Joe Borg, known as 'Il-Pesu' as their senior squad coach for the upcoming season.
Mr Borg has good coaching experience with Valletta F.C. holding the post of assistant coach to Manolov when the City won the coveted 6 trophies.
After missing out on promotion losing a decisive play-off following a penalty shoot-out, Gzira United FC are seeking to strengthen their team with more signings in the near future.
- Champions Sliema Wanderers will be facing rivals Birkirkara in the opening match of the Euro Challenge Cup competition. Taking part are the three clubs participating the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup.
The first match will be played on Monday July 5.
The loser of the first match meets Marsaxlokk in the second match on Wednesday 7. In case of a draw between Sliema and Birkirkara, Marsaxlokk will face Sliema.
The third match will be played on Friday 9.
The three matches will be played at the Hibs Ground, kick-off at 18:00.
The following week the three clubs will be playing in the UEFA competitions. Sliema host FBK Kaunas of Lithuania on Tuesday 13, as the game has been anticipated by one day. On Thursday 15, Marsaxlokk face NK Primorje of Slovenia at the National Stadium while Birkirkara will be playing in Tirana, Albania against FK Partizani.
The Euro Challenge Cup was first held in 1982. This competition replaced the Independence Cup which was transformed from a clash between the champions and FA Trophy winners to a tournament between the teams taking part in UEFA competitions in 1969.
In 1993, the Euro Cup was replaced by the Lowenbrau Cup. However with the Lowenbrau sponsorship coming to an end last year, the competition will be known once again as Euro Challenge Cup.
- The third edition of the Malta Football Awards was launched during a press conference which was held at the Westin Dragonara Resort, St. Julian's on Monday.
Players, coaches and match officials will be running for the twelve individual awards. In fact, this edition marks the addition of a new award - one reserved for the Best Female Player. This is the result of a suggestion that was put forward during the launching of last year's edition.
The 12 categories for this year's edition are therefore:
Best Maltese player 2003/04
Best Foreign player 2003/04
Most promising youngster 2003/04
Best goalkeeper 2003/04
Best striker 2003/04
Best defender 2003/04
Best midfielder 2003/04
Best coach 2003/04
Best referee 2003/04
Best assistant referee 2003/04
Best goal of the season 2003/04 and
Best female footballer
Organiser Sandro Micallef said that unlike the other awards, for the Best Female Footballer award, the coaches of the six teams taking part in the Women's League cast their votes.
The number of journalists voting for the other awards was increased from 20 to 30 thus giving the opportunity to all journalists who reported the football games, representing TV and radio stations, newspapers and online media, being also protagonists in these awards by expressing their preferences through their votes. Ten presidents (or club officials), coaches and team captains representing each Premier League club also had the right to vote for ten awards.
On the other hand, voting for the Best Goal of the Season will take place during the meetings of the organizing committee. The finalists will be announced two weeks before the final night.
The gala event will be presented by John Busuttil together with Antonella Vassallo and Valerie Vella. Entertainment will be provided by Fabrizio Faniello and possbly, Ira Losco. On the other hand, a special song, featuring players as the main protagonists, is being prepared for the event. The lyrics will be written by Enzo Guzman while the composer is Philip Vella.
Some of the top TV and media personalities will be presenting the various awards to the players, coaches and match officials.
A limited number of tickets at Lm 5 each are available for the show; these can be purchased by calling the ticket hotline 9946 8001.
The Westin Malta Football Awards now also have their own website www.maltafootball.com/awards. One will be able to find the latest news about this edition and all the information about the previous two editions.
- Malta international defender Luke Dimech will be playing once again for Mansfield Town next season after agreeing to sign a new contract. This was reported by local radio, Mansfield 103.2.
Despite making just 17 appearances in 46 league matches, Dimech was one of 12 out-of-contract players who have been offered new deals.
Jason White, Dave Artell, Jake Buxton, Tom Curtis, Adam Eaton and Neil MacKenzie all agreed new deals for next year with the club.
Luke Dimech had started his career in England as a youth player with Lincoln City. Then he moved to Malta in 1995 to join Sliema Wanderers. After a short spell with Shamrock Rovers in Ireland in summer 2002, he joined Birkirkara, helping them claim the FA Trophy and the Super Cup. He joined Mansfield Town last August.
After missing out on promotion by losing the play-offs final on the penalty shoot-out, Mansfield Town will be playing once again in the Third Division, which has now been renamed to League 2. The Stags' first game is against Bristol Rovers at home on August 7. This is followed by the clash against Oxford away from home on August 11.
The Stags will face local rivals Notts County at Field Mill on October 16, and at Meadow Lane on February 5. The season finishes with a trip to Leyton Orient.
- Intertoto Cup Slaven Belupo vs Hibernians 3-0
- Danilo Doncic has been confirmed as one of the foreigners for Sliema Wanderers after signing a new two-year deal.
This will be the fourth year for Doncic with Sliema - four years in which he played 82 matches scoring 69 goals, each season being crowned Premier League top scorer.
While Nigerian midfielder Orosco Anonam is still under contract, the future of goalkeeper Murphy Akanji is still not clear. Negotiations with the former Nigerian international goalkeeper are expected to be held during the week.
Should his contract is not renewed, Sliema could make a bid for Italian defender Mauro Di Lello who was released by Pietà. But in the mean time, they would have to search for a new goalkeeper.
Meanwhile following the departure of Michael Mifsud, Sliema are asking the player to refund money he had received in advance before they give the go-ahead for the international transfer certificate (clearance) to be issued.
- Chris Okoh will be playing for another three years with Pietà Hotspurs after signing a new deal. His contract expired at the end of the season.
Pietà are currently negotiating a new contract with Digger Okonkwo who had joined the Hotspurs in 2001/02.
- Champions Sliema Wanderers were drawn to meet Lithuanian champions FBK Kaunas in the first qualifying round of the Champions League. The draw for the first two qualifying rounds was held at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon on Friday at noon.
The first leg will be played at Ta' Qali on July 14 with the return match being played in Lithuania on July 21.
With a ranking of 1.099, champions Sliema Wanderers were unlucky not to be one of the seeded teams. In fact, the Blues held the highest ranking among unseeded teams.
FBK Kaunas dominated the local scene in Lithuania over the past years having won the championship for the past five years. They were earlier known as Zalgiris Kaunas.
They are also the current league leaders in the Lithuanian A-League which kicked-off in April.
In recent years, FBK Kaunas managed to reach the second qualifying round of the Champions League twice. In 2001, they eliminated Brotnjo Citluk (Bosnia-Herzegovina) on a 4-3 aggregate but then lost 4-1 on aggregate to Glasgow Rangers, holding them 0-0 in Lithuania. Last season, they also managed to qualify beating HB Torshavn of the Faroe Islands 1-0 and 4-1 but then lost to Celtic 0-4 and 0-1.
UEFA Cup 1999/2000: Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs FBK Kaunas 3-1 1-2
Champions League 2000/01: FBK Kaunas vs Brotnjo Citluk 4-0 0-3
Glasgow Rangers vs FBK Kaunas 4-1 0-0
Champions League 2001/02: Sloga Skopje vs FBK Kaunas 0-0 1-1
Champions League 2002/03: FBK Kaunas vs Dinamo Tirana 2-3 0-0
Champions League 2003/04: FBK Kaunas vs Celtic 0-4 0-1
HB Torshavn vs FBK Kaunas 0-1 1-4
This is only the second time that teams from Malta and Lithuania were drawn together. In 1993, Floriana were drawn against FK Ekranas in the qualifying round of the Champions League. The Greens won both legs 1-0.
The winners of the clash between Sliema and Kaunas will be meeting Swedish side Djurgården IF in the second qualifying round.
- Premier League runners-up Birkirkara and FA Trophy finalists Marsaxlokk will be facing opponents from Albania and Slovenia respectively in the the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. The Stripes were drawn with FK Partizani Tirana while Marsaxlokk will be facing NK Primorje.
In both cases, the first leg was orignally scheduled to be played away from home on July 15. However there was an agreement between the parties involved and now Marsaxlokk will be playing the first leg at home while Birkirkara will be playing the first leg in Albania. The second leg will be played on July 29.
For the first time, a Maltese club is seeded in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. With a ranking of 2.099, Birkirkara are ranked 14th among the 50 teams in the draw. Marsaxlokk, in their first European adventure, were unseeded.
The 50 teams were grouped on a regional basis with the two Maltese teams being placed in the Southern Mediterranean region with the teams from Slovenia, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, FYR Macedonia, Albania, Andorra and San Marino.
Birkirkara were drawn with FK Partizani Tirana, one of the seven unseeded teams in the group.
Partizani placed fourth last season but managed to win the Albanian Cup after defeating Dinamo Tirana 1-0 in the final. This was their fifteenth success in the cup.
They won the championship fifteen times, the last time being in 1992/93.
Partizani took part 16 times in UEFA competitions. They played 31 matches, obtaining five wins and six draws, reaching a second round once when in season 1970/71, they managed to eliminate Åtvidabergs FF of Sweden with an aggregate score of 3-1.
Maltese teams' record against Albanian teams is not positive at all as the latter prevailed on four occasions.
Dinamo Tirana eliminated Hamrun Spartans (agg 1-0) in the UEFA Cup 1985/86. In the Cup Winners Cup 1987/88, Vllaznia Shkodër eliminated Sliema Wanderers with an aggregate score of 6-0. Then it was the turn of SK Tirana to eliminate Hamrun Spartans in the Champions Cup 1988/89 (2-1 for Hamrun at home, 2-0 for SK in Tirana) and Sliema Wanderers in the Champions Cup 1989/90 (1-0 for Sliema at Ta' Qali, 5-0 for SK in Tirana).
On the other hand, Marsaxlokk will be meeting NK Primorje of Slovenia.
NK Primorje Ajdovscina placed sixth in the Championship Pool in Slovenia. However they qualified for the UEFA Cup as the league runners-up, Olimpija Ljubljana, failed to obtain a UEFA license.
This is the third participation for Primorje in UEFA competitions. In the Cup Winners Cup 1997/98, they eliminated Union Luxembourg, beating them 2-0 and 1-0 in the Preliminary Round. In the first round they managed to eliminate AIK Stockholm beating them 1-0 in Sweden and sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw in Slovenia. However in the second round, they lost 0-2 and 0-4 to Roda JC Kerkrade of the Netherlands.
Two years ago, in the preliminary round of the UEFA Cup, they managed to beat Zvartnots Yerevan of Armenia 6-1 in Slovenia, however losing 0-2 away from home. In the first round, they suffered two defeats to Wisla Kraków of Poland 0-2 and 1-6.
The only clash between teams from Malta and Slovenia took place in season 1992/93 when NK Maribor Branik beat Hamrun Spartans 4-0 in the first leg of the Cup Winners Cup qualifying round. Hamrun won the second leg at Ta' Qali 2-1.
- The Women's national team suffered a 5-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland in a Group 5 qualifier from the UEFA Women's Championship at Dalymount Park on Friday. Malta lost 0-9 to Ireland at Ta' Qali in October.
The performance was much better this time, also considering that in their last outing, they had suffered a 0-8 home defeat to Romania.
O'Toole opened the scoring after 12 minutes, before her club team-mate Elaine O'Connor doubled the lead just before the half hour. O'Toole added another after the interval and then completed her hat-trick in the 78th minute. Arsenal FC player Ciara Grant completed the scoring, as coach Noel King's team sealed a comfortable win against the group's bottom team at Dalymount Park.
Ireland lead the standings with 18 points from 8 matches, followed by Romania on 14 points from 6 matches and Croatia on 13 (7 matches). Bosnia-Herzegovina claimed their only three points in a win over Malta.
After this match, Malta will be playing one final game on September 5 at home against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
- Sliema Wanderers, Birkirkara and Marsaxlokk will be eager to know their fate as the draws of the 2004/05 UEFA club competition season will take place on Friday. The pairings for the first two qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League and the first qualifying round in the UEFA Cup will be made during ceremonies to be staged at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, starting at 12:00 and 14:00 respectively.
With a ranking of 1.099, champions Sliema Wanderers were unlucky not to be one of the seeded teams. In fact, the Blues hold the highest ranking among unseeded teams.
The possible opponents for Sliema are therefore: FC Skonto Riga (Latvia), HJK Helsinki (Finland), Nova Gorica (Slovenia), FC Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova), NK Široki Brijeg (Bosnia), FC WIT Georgia Tbilisi (Georgia), FK Pobeda Prilep (Macedonia), FBK Kaunas (Lithuania), FC Gomel (Belarus) and KR Reykjavik (Iceland).
For the first time, a Maltese club is seeded in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. With a ranking of 2.099, Birkirkara are ranked 14th among the 50 teams in the draw. The other Maltese team in the draw, Marsaxlokk, are unseeded.
The 50 teams were grouped on a regional basis with the two Maltese teams being placed in the Southern Mediterranean region with the teams from Slovenia, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, FYR Macedonia, Albania, Andorra and San Marino. This was announced by UEFA this evening.
The possible opponents for Birkirkara are: FK Sileks Kratovo (Macedonia), Sloga Jugomagnat Skopje (Macedonia), Marsaxlokk, KS Dinamo Tirana (Albania), FK Partizani Tirana (Albania), FC Santa Coloma (Andorra) and SS Pennarossa (San Marino).
On the other hand, Marsaxlokk will be meeting a team among: NK Maribor (Slovenia), FC Otelul Galati (Romania), NK Zeljeznicar Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina), NK Primorje (Slovenia), AC Omonia Nicosia (Cyprus), Birkirkara and FK Modrica (Bosnia-Herzegovina).
The UEFA Cup competition rules - Regulations of the
UEFA Cup 2004/05 - do not exclude the possibility of two teams from the same country facing each other in the qualifying rounds and the first round of the competition.
In fact, they only specify that clubs from the same association will not be drawn
into the same group in the group phase and the round of the 32 (fifth stage).
- Sliema Wanderers and Malta international midfielder Stefan Giglio claimed the MFA Footballer of the Year award 2003/2004. This was announced during a meeting of the Council of the Malta Football Association which was held on Thursday.
Giglio collected a total of 44.02 percentage points, to which two bonus points as he won the MIA Player of the Month award twice, for a total of 46.02 percentage points.
Pietà goalkeeper Saviour Darmanin placed second with 44.79% and Sliema Wanderers defender Jeffrey Chetcuti third with 38.29%. Another Sliema Wanderers player, Noel Turner, placed fourth with 36.49% while Pietà captain Ivan Woods ended fifth with 36.42%.
Meanwhile Antonio Saliba of San Gwann won the Best First Division Player award with 42.77%. He placed first ahead of Giles Lanzon (Lija A. - 40.59%), Charles Sciberras (Mosta - 39.53%), Michael Micallef (Rabat A. - 39.48%) and Chris Calleja (Mqabba - 37.63%).
John Camilleri of Gozo FC won the Best Second Division Player award with 45.29%. Bruce Genovese (Zebbug R.) placed second with 41.9%, Keith Xuereb (Vittoriosa S.) third with 39.58%, Wayne Borg St. John (Mellieha) fourth with 38.8% and Chris Camilleri (Gozo) fifth with 34.43%.
Neville Farrugia of Birzebbuga St. Peter's claimed the Best Third Division Player award with 43.65%. The runner-up was Mark Buttigieg (St.Venera L.) with 41.71%. Kurt Grima (Sta. Lucia - 39.37%), Steve Magri (Melita - 38.82%) and Joseph Saliba (Qormi - 36.45%) placed third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Paolo Ciantar of Rabat Ajax won the Best Youth Player award with a total of 50.02, ahead of Wayne Borg St. John (Mellieha - 42.03%), Andre Schembri (Hibernians - 39.77%), Ian Zammit (Valletta - 38.11%) and Cleaven Frendo (Pietà H. - 30.07%).
Melita's Maria Azzopardi claimed the Best Female Player award with 43.65%. Two Hibernians players - Dionne Tonna and Dorianne Theuma placed second with 41.19% and third with 39.84% respectively. Jane Coates of Mosta ended fourth with 38.89% and Rebecca D' Agostino (Birkirkara) fifth with 36.43%.
Guzi Xuereb of Hibernians won the Best Futsal League Player award ahead of two players of Konica Gunners - Anthony Farrugia and Carmel Busuttil.
- The winners of the Fair Play Awards and the top scorers in the various divisions were also announced during the meeting of the Council of the Malta Football Association which was held on Wednesday.
Fair Play Awards:
Premier League - 1. Hamrun Spartans, 2. Balzan Youths, 3. Hibernians
First Division - 1. Tarxien Rainbows, 2. Lija Athletic, 3. Mqabba
Third Division - 1. Gudja United, 2. Ghaxaq, 3. Sta. Venera Lightenings and Pembroke Athleta
Youth League - 1. Pietà Hotspurs, 2. Mosta, 3. Lija Athletic
Women's League - 1. Mosta, 2. Hibernians, 3. Birkirkara and Melita
Overall - 1. Gudja United, 2. Tarxien Rainbows, 3. St. Andrews.
Premier League - 1. Danilo Doncic (Sliema) 19 goals, 2. Etienne Barbara (Marsaxlokk) 15 goals, 3. Michael Galea (Birkirkara) 14 goals
First Division - 1. Ikechukwu Chibueze (Mqabba) 18 goals, 2. Chima Dozie (Naxxar) 15 goals, 3. Simon Shead (Tarxien) 13 goals
Second Division - 1. John Camilleri (Gozo) 22 goals, 2. Chris Ciappara (Attard) 18 goals, 3. Robert Guzman (St. Andrews) 15 goals
Third Division - 1.Michael Borg Olivier (Qormi) 17 goals, 2. Alistair Camilleri (Kirkop) 14 goals, 3. Carmel Formosa (Qormi) and Jeffrey Zammit (Sta. Venera) 10 goals
Women's League - 1. Dorianne Theuma (Hibs) 22 goals, 2. Sarah Caruana (Hibs) 17 goals, 3. Rebecca D' Agostino (Birkirkara) 15 goals.
- The Hibernians squad left Malta on Thursday, destination Croatia, where the Paolites will be facing NK Slaven Belupo in the second leg of the UEFA Intertoto Cup first round.
A 2-1 win in the first leg leaves a reasonable chance for Robert Gatt's side to reach the second round of the competition. However they should be extremely cautious considering that Slaven boast an impressive record in the Intertoto Cup having reached the third round in 2000 and 2001 and the semi-finals in 2002.
Ndubisi Chukunyere and Cesar Paiber are ruled out for the Paolites once again.
The squad which travelled to Croatia is made up of Mario Muscat, Ivan Cassar, Peter Pullicino, Adrian Pulis, Aaron Xuereb, Ryan Mintoff, Kevin Cassar, Jonathan Caruana, Julian Vella, Roderick Baldacchino, Andre Schembri, Essien Mbong, Andrew Cohen, Antoine Zahra, Adrian Mifsud, Terence Scerri, Udo Nwoko, Kenneth Spiteri, Matthew Bartolo, Steve Borda.
The winner of this two-legged clash will be meeting the winner between KS Vllaznia (Albania) and Hapoel Beer-Sheva (Israel).
- The Women's national team leaves Malta on Wednesday morning destination Dublin where they will be facing the Republic of Ireland in the UEFA Women's Championship Group 5 qualifier at Dalymount Park on Friday 25.
Women's national coach Pierre Brincat and his assistant Alfred Zammit dropped two players from the provisional squad, leaving out Isabelle Mazzitelli and Maria Coppola.
The eighteen players selected by Brincat are therefore:
goalkeepers Nina Dimech, (Birkirkara), Michelle Zahra (Hibernians),
defenders Maria Azzopardi (Melita), Francesca Busuttil Griffin (Hibernians), Chantal Fenech (Birkirkara), Leslie Ann Galea (Hibernians), Natasha Pace (Melita), Alexandra Sammut (Birkirkara), Dorianne Theuma (Hibernians),
midfielders Theresa Agius (Hibernians), Jane Coates (Mosta), Rebecca D' Agostino (Birkirkara), Marisa Deguara (Mosta), Alexia Scicluna (Birkirkara), Dionne Tonna (Hibernians), Joanne Vella (Hibernians) and
forwards Sarah Jane Caruana (Hibernians), Kathleen Saliba (Hibernians).
- Sliema Wanderers and Malta international striker Michael Mifsud will be playing abroad once again after he agreed to sign a two-and-a-half year contract with Norwegian Premier Division side Lillestrøm SK. A contract which will keep him in Norway till 2006.
The 23-year old striker returned to Malta last November after Kaiserslautern had dissolved his contract. He went on to sign an 18-month contract with his former club, Sliema, despite the keen interest showed by Marsaxlokk and helped the Blues secure the championship and the FA Trophy, Sliema's first double since 1965.
Mifsud had joined the Red Devils in summer 2001, signing a contract as an amateur player. After playing regularly with the Amateur side in the Regionalliga during the first season, he got the opportunity to play in the Bundesliga with the senior side. Mifsud was offered a professional contract at the end of last season. In all, he made 21 appearances for Kaiserslautern in the Bundesliga scoring two goals.
Lillestrøm are currently seventh in the Norwegian Premier Division with 17 points from 12 matches. Tromsø lead the table with 25 points. The Norwegian league kicks-off in April and comes to an end in October.
They were crowned champions five times in the history of the club, the last time being in 1989.
- Sliema Wanderers and Malta international striker Michael Mifsud is on the verge of joining Norwegian First Division side Lillestrom, according to reports appearing on Sky Sports and Norwegian daily Romerikes Blad.
Mifsud would be the first signing of former Manchester City favourite Uwe Rosler who has been appointed as the new head coach of the Norwegian club earlier this month.
The Sliema striker returned to Malta in November after Kaiserslautern had dissolved his contract going on to sign an 18-month contract with Sliema despite keen interest by Marsaxlokk.
He had joined the Red Devils in summer 2001, signing a contract as an amateur player. After playing regularly with the Amateur side in the Regionalliga during the first season, he got the opportunity to play in the Bundesliga with the senior side. Mifsud was offered a professional contract last July, a contract which was due to expire on June 30, 2004.
Club official Frank Gronlund said Mifsud will arrive in Norway on Sunday. "This is a player that we look on for a long term investment," Gronlund said.
- UEFA Intertoto Cup Hibernians vs Slaven Belupo 2-1
- Two Birkirkara players extended their stay with the club by signing new contracts.
Lino Galea, who has been playing for the Stripes for the past four years, signed a two-year contract which will keep him at the club till June 2006.
On the other hand, Birkirkara FC product Roderick Briffa signed a new four-year contract. His contract was due to expire at the end of next season.
The club is still negotiating new contracts with Michael Galea and Kenneth Scicluna, whose contract expires this month.
Meanwhile, while speaking to the club's official website, Birkirkara PRO Joe Abela stressed that William Camenzuli is not for sale as "it is the club`s intention to strengthen the squad for the coming season and not to weaken the side by selling one of its stalwarts."
The fact that the Malta international defender is yet to start the pre-season training with Birkirkara had fuelled speculation that he is willing to leave the club. Sliema Wanderers were in fact reportedly interested in signing the player.
Camenzuli had signed a five-year contract with the club at the beginning of last season.
- Women's national coach Pierre Brincat and his assistant Alfred Zammit named a 20-strong squad for the forthcoming UEFA Women's Championship Group 5 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland at Dalymount Park in Dublin on Friday 25.
This will be the seventh game for Malta. After three quite encouraging results away from home shores - a 3-0 defeat to Romania, 1-0 to Bosnia-Herzegovina and 3-0 to Croatia, the team disappointed at home. Malta suffered a 0-9 defeat to Ireland at Ta' Qali, 1-4 to Croatia at the Gozo Stadium and 0-8 to Romania at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
Ireland lead the standings with 15 points from 7 matches, followed by Romania on 14 points from 6 matches and Croatia on 13 (7 matches). Bosnia-Herzegovina claimed their only three points in a win over Malta.
The twenty players selected by Brincat are:
goalkeepers Nina Dimech, (Birkirkara), Michelle Zahra (Hibernians),
defenders Maria Azzopardi (Melita), Francesca Busuttil Griffin (Hibernians), Chantal Fenech (Birkirkara), Leslie Ann Galea (Hibernians), Isabelle Mazzitelli (Birkirkara), Natasha Pace (Melita), Alexandra Sammut (Birkirkara), Dorianne Theuma (Hibernians),
midfielders Theresa Agius (Hibernians), Jane Coates (Mosta), Rebecca D' Agostino (Birkirkara), Marisa Deguara (Mosta), Alexia Scicluna (Birkirkara), Dionne Tonna (Hibernians), Joanne Vella (Hibernians) and
forwards Sarah Jane Caruana (Hibernians), Maria Coppola (Melita), Kathleen Saliba (Hibernians).
After this match, Malta will be playing one final game on September 5 at home against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
- Gzira United are receiving applications for coaches for the senior side and the Minors' team. Applications should be sent to Gzira United FC, PO Box 22, Gzira by not later than Monday June 21.
- Two new coaches will be forming part of the coaching staff at the MFA Technical Centre, Ta' Qali.
The two coaches are Joe Grech and Marco Gerada. Grech and Gerada replace Michael Degiorgio and Michael Molzahn.
The other coaches, namely Charles Agius, John Bonello, Edwin Camilleri, Stephen Grima, Charles Scerri and Silvio Vella, were all confirmed.
- Malta joined the other 51 member associations in celebrating UEFA's Golden Jubilee - the European body's 50th anniversary.
On June 15th, 1954, a group of pioneers decided to form a continental body that would help move the European game forward. Since then, UEFA has continued to move with the times.
To mark this occasion, around 20,000 special blue and gold Jubilee balloons were released across Europe at some time during the day on the 15th June.
In Malta, this particular event was commemorated by the release of fifty special Jubilee balloons by children of the Football Nurseries in front of the Millenium Stand of the National Stadium. Attached to these balloons were cards and the finders of these cards can send them to UEFA to claim UEFA souvenirs.
Also among all the cards were two which entitle the lucky finders to two complimentary tickets for next year’s UEFA Champions League Final.
- Maltese officials will be controlling two matches from the first leg of the UEFA Intertoto Cup first round this weekend.
Lorry Sammut will control the clash between UE Sant Julia of Andorra and FK Sartid Smederevo of Serbia-Montenegro. He will be assisted by Joe Camilleri and Nicky Debattista.
On Sunday, Adrian Casha will control the match between Danish side Esbjerg FB and NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands. Konrad Borg and Alan Camilleri will be assisting him.
In both matches, the fourth official will be from the host country.
- Msida St. Joseph unveiled Mario Petrone as their new coach during a press conference which was held on Monday. The appointment of Petrone was the first important decision taken by Notaio Roberto Goveani after being elected unanimously as president of Msida last Sunday.
Vice-president Dr Kevin Deguara said the club's project of establishing itself as one of the top six clubs in the Premier League is now taking shape. Deguara pointed out that this project gives great importance to youths and entails all those involved in the club from the senior players to those in the nursery.
Petrone said he had been following Maltese football over the past months and he was pleasantly surprised with Msida. He said that contacts are currently being established in order to decide matters from the technical, organizational, administrative aspects. Msida are also discussing which local players could be on target during the coming transfer market.
Thirty-one year old Mario Petrone holds a UEFA B Licence. Petrone played for Puteolana, Casertana, Rovigo, Giovani Cardito and Capri Isola Azzurra between 1989 and 2000 in Serie C1, C2 and lower leagues.
Petrone's first experience in coaching was with Capri Isola Azzurra in season 1999/2000 where he coached the second team in the Juniores category. He was also the coach of the senior team during the following season where he lead the team to the third place in the Eccellenza.
In 2001/2002, he was the head coach at FBC Calangianus. During that season, he was also the coach of the senior team which won the Eccelenza (Sardegna). The following season, Calangianus placed fifth in the Dilettanti. During the past season, Petrone joined US Tempio in the Eccellenza (Sardegna), leading them to a third place.
Dr Deguara denied the club made a formal request for Birkirkara duo Lino Galea and Antoine Zahra. On the other hand, goalkeeper Omar Borg signed a four-year contract with the club.
As regards foreigners, Manuel Boni will definitely be one of the club's foreigners. The club is currently negotiating the possible transfer of Nigerian duo Daniel Nwoke and Olumuyiwa Aganun with foreign clubs, including Russian clubs. Should these transfers materialize, two Italian players could join the club.
Meanwhile Notaio Roberto Goveani was unanimously elected as president of Msida St. Joseph on Sunday during the club's Annual General Meeting.
Other members of the board which will managed the club are vice-president Dr Kevin Deguara, financial director Antoine Portelli and board secretary Claudio Martinelli who will also act as chairman of the committee.
Outgoing president Joe Demarco was elected as Honorary President.
- Brian Meilak of Ghajnsielem was voted the GFA Player of the Year 2003/04. Other individual awards by the Gozo FA were: Best Foreigner - Kalenga Ndayi (Ghajnsielem), Best Player Division 2 - John Camilleri (Xaghra U.), U-21 Best Player - Chris Scortino (SK Victoria W.), Player of the Year Gozo FC - John Camilleri, Most Promising Player in Div 1 - Charles Hili (Nadur Youngsters); Most Promising Player in II Div: Matthew Francalanza (St. Lawrence S.).
- Birkirkara defeated Mosta 3-1 in the Under-16 Knock-Out final which was held at St. Aloysius Ground on Sunday.
B’Kara Under 16, under the guidance of Coach Oliver Spiteri have eliminated Section A winners Paola Hibs in the semi-final. This is the first time that Birkirkara managed to win the knock-out competition after reaching the final on four other occasions – 1984, 1993, 1994 and 2003.
Congratulations to all players, coach, head coach, Nursery committee, parents and supporters, together with past committee members and coaches who with their valuable work at the Nursery throughout these years have all contributed to this success.
- Ray 'Zazu' Farrugia stepped down from his post as Pietà Hotspurs coach.
This decision was taken following a meeting with Pietà Hotspurs president Edward Schembri who is also a director of the General Sports Enterprise - the company which runs the Buzu Soccer School.
Farrugia, who will now join the Buzu Soccer School on a full-time basis, had been coaching the Hotspurs for the past two years after quitting the Malta Under-21 side.
The new coach of Pietà is now expected to be an Italian coach. The Hotspurs could also have new Italian foreigners thanks to the club's close links with Italy and especially Serie A side Lecce.
Their only foreigner on their books is Branko Nisevic since Mauro Di Lello was released.
- The Youth FA in collaboration with the Chelsea Supporters Club - Malta (CSCM) held a seminar on Youth Football Development at the Centenary Hall, Ta' Qali. The key speakers were Chris Harris, Football Development Official from Football in the Community (FIC) at Chelsea FC and Laurence Batty, Goalkeeping Coach at Chelsea FC Academy, who were in Malta for the Emirates Airline Young Footballer Challenge, sponsored by Emirates.
Following an introduction by CSCM President Joe Anastasi, Chris Harris gave an outline of the activities carried out at FITC. Established in 1992 by Shaun Gore (who was in Malta for the Emirates Airline Young Footballer Challenge 2003), FITC is run by eight full time officers and hundreds of freelance coaches. They promote grass roots football within the geographical boundaries allocated via the Professional Footballers Association (PFA). FITC runs a wide and varied programme of activities and its aim is to develop football and links with the community.
Some of the initiatives include residential and non-residential soccer schools, after school clubs, in school coaching, disability football as well as girls football. Chris Harris runs a development centre in Guildford and he coaches children from the age of 6. The eight development centres cater for 200 to 250 children, who are divided in groups of 20. The aim is for children to learn in a fun, organised and safe environment and to improve their standard of football.
Each year the best 160 candidates (aged 8 and of above average standard) from all development centres within the Chelsea boundaries are selected for a trial to join the Chelsea FC Academy. Out of these, only 16 that show exceptional talent are picked up and join the Academy. This is a small percentage but guarantees a squad of elite players for the next Under 9 squad. The other children will continue their training with the development centres on a once weekly basis as recreational players.
The Chelsea FC Academy trains only the crème de la crème and at the Academy Laurence Batty coaches goalkeeping. During his talk, Batty emphasised that at the Academy they give great importance to time management, football equipment and the welfare of the children.
Batty coaches goalkeeping for a 90 minute to a 2 hour session four times a week. The children are given a warm up, and then pass on to hurdle work, quick footwork, juggling, touches for about 15 minutes on each exercise. Every exercise is timed. By the time the children reach 16 years, they are immaculate in their approach, and the best receive a full scholarship to follow an apprenticeship course.
An innovative idea at CFC Academy is the use of a personal log book for each child. Chelsea is one of the first clubs in UK to monitor the growth and progress of each child via such a log book. Apart from allotting a point system on each and every exercise, training and games, the log book provides information on drug awareness and drills to be carried out at home and at the Academy. The log book also serves the full time welfare officer who is employed to look after the children especially those who might have problems at home or at school.
Coaching goalkeeping to children starts at an early age. Goalkeeping requires more mental and physical attitudes. Body language - head and body movement - quick footwork, hurdles and in particular distribution of the ball are the main requisites. Other major aspects that the Chelsea FC Academy looks at are bravery and height of the goalkeeper.
Asked if at the Academy they play leagues, Batty replied that there are no league tables for children under 16 years. After the drills, the children are free to play an 8-a-side game of 60 minutes, but the emphasis is not on winning. Batty said that leagues can cause a child to overuse injury by playing too many games. This could impose stress on talented young players in order for the team to win. At Chelsea Academy the importance is not on winning but on the fact that young players need to be nurtured and looked after.
Chelsea coaches are always advised to assess themselves after each training session to see if one has delivered correctly. They also discuss not only the progress of each child but even their own approach and attitudes to coaching. In fact they have introduced video assessing which has helped coaches and keeps them on their toes.
Laurence Batty said that the Chelsea FC Academy aims to be the best, as no one doubts Roman Ambramovich's financial power to buy any player. However, Ambramovich is fully supportive and understands the importance and necessity of producing talented players through the Academy system.
Chris Harris concluded that through this new youth football development system, their philosophy is that one day the Premier Clubs in UK will eventually not need to rely on so many foreign players. With this system, the squad will be strengthened with a high percentage of English players - at least this is what Chelsea FC Academy is hoping for.
Emirates District Manager, Paul Fleri Soler, thanked Mr Batty and Mr Harris for their very informative talk. He said: "I am confident that next year we can further expand on this activity for the benefit of the Maltese coaches. In fact, very soon we will be embarking on a plan to hold a practical session next year."
Youth FA Vice President, Mr Godfrey Pecorella, said: "The response from the Maltese coaches for this interesting seminar is very encouraging for us. We shall endeavour to continue running similar seminars such as this one by Chelsea FC. We thank the Chelsea Supporters Club - Malta and Emirates Airlines for their full collaboration."
At the end of the seminar, the General Secretary of the Youth FA, Joe Micallef presented mementos to Laurence Batty and to Chris Harris. CSCM President Joe Anastasi also presented the CSCM banner to Mr Micallef.
- Sliema Wanderers and Malta international midfielder Stefan Giglio leads the race for the Malta Football Association Footballer of the Year award 2003/04. Giglio collected 61 points during a preliminary voting by MFA officials and journalists.
Pietà goalkeeper Saviour Darmanin obtained 56 points, followed by another Pietà player, Ivan Woods, and Jeffrey Chetcuti of Sliema, who both collected 42 points. Fifth is Sliema's Noel Turner who obtained 39 points.
Other nominees for the award were: Ian Azzopardi (Floriana), Roderick Baldacchino (Hibernians), Daniel Bogdanovic, Richard Buhagiar (Marsaxlokk), Chucks Nwoko (Birkirkara), Rupert Mangion, Michael Mifsud, Brian Said (Sliema) and Ruben Bonnett (Sirens).
Their number of points will be adjusted with the addition of points depending the number of appearances for the club and the national team and the deduction of points depending on yellow and red cards received.
The winner will be announced during a meeting of the Council of the Malta Football Association on June 23.
- San Gwann FC Youth Nursery is accepting applications for the position of Head Coach and coaches who are interested in forming part of the Nursery coaching staff for season 2004/2005.
With over than 250 members, the San Gwann Youth Nursery is at the foremost of promoting and fostering professionalism among youth football players.
Nursery Head Coach - The ideal candidate will have excellent communication skills. The role requires a highly organized individual with an excellent leadership and in possession of at least a UEFA B Coaching Licence.
The Head Coach will be responsible for the day to day running of the nursery and the supervision of the Technical Coaching Staff. He will report directly to the Nursery Committee. Previous experience would be considered an asset. An attractive salary package will be offered.
Technical Coaching Staff - The ideal candidates will be highly motivated an able to work as part of a team, in continuous contact with youths.
Applicants must be in possession of a valid Coaching Licence in Football. Salary will be commensurate with the qualification and experience of the selected candidates.
Applications should be sent to The Secretary, San Gwann FC Youth Nursery, 6 Kampanella Street, San Gwann.
- Romanian defender Lucian Dronca obtained the free release from Birkirkara by the Malta Football Association. Dronca was granted the release on the basis of a rule which says that a player who was not paid his salary for two months is given the release.
According to the club's official website, Lucian Dronca has expressed his willingness to stay with the club.
However it is no secret that Dronca could seek a move to another club. Two clubs are reportedly interested in signing him - Sliema Wanderers and Marsaxlokk.
Dronca has been playing in Malta for the past three years after playing club football in his home country, Romania, and Croatia.
- The Malta Football Association will participate in the ‘World Blood Donor Day’ which has been selected by organizations working for voluntary remunerated blood donation, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has joined in to co-sponsor this event together with FIFA which, as part of its humanitarian agenda, is giving this event its full moral support.
The World Blood Donor Day on Monday, 14th June, 2004, is dedicated to all those unselfish ‘heroes’ who regularly donate blood. Rather than attracting a significant influx of new donors, it aims to create wider awareness of the importance of voluntary blood donation and to promote a new generation of regular donors. The focus of World Blood Donor Day will thus be youth.
The MFA encourages its Member Club and Member Associations, Council Members , club officials, players, coaches and referees to take active part in this event by donating blood at the Blood Transfusion Centre in Guardamangia and, by so doing, show their solidarity with all voluntary blood donors around the world for giving the precious gift without any reward.
All those interested are requested to contact Mr John Farrugia, MFA Vice President of the MFA (mob. 9940 2222) who is co-ordinating this activity on behalf of the Association.
- Fifty-five promising young footballers battled it out for the title of winner of the third edition of the Emirates Airline Young Footballer Challenge 2004. This event, organised by the Chelsea Supporters Club - Malta (CSCM) with the aim of discovering new young Maltese football talent, was held at the Centenary Stadium, Ta' Qali.
Sponsored by Emirates, the Dubai-based international airline, the Challenge featured talented young soccer players, born in 1991 and 1992, from 23 local Youth Nursery Clubs.
These hailed from Birkirkara FC; Birzebbugia Windmills; Fgura United; Floriana FC; Gudja United FC; Lija-Iklin YN; Melita FC; Mellieha FC; Msida St Joseph FC; Paola Hibs FN; Pembroke Athleta; Pietà Hotspurs; Qormi FC; Rabat Depiro; San Gwann FC; Sliema Wanderers FC; St. Patrick's FC; St. Andrews Luxol; St George's FC, Tarxien Rainbows, Senglea FC, Valletta FC and Zejtun Corinthians FC.
The Adjudicating Panel consisted of three established Maltese coaches Robert Kelly, Edward Aquilina, and Raymond Decelis. Emirates Airline Young Footballer Challenge was organised with the approval of the Malta Football Association and is supported by Chelsea FC.
Chelsea FC, this year, has sent over to Malta two senior officials from its Football in the Community (FITC) and the Chelsea FC Academy. Chris Harris, Football Development Officer for Surrey and Sussex at FITC and Laurence Batty, Goalkeeping Coach from Chelsea CF Academy were invited to Malta by CSCM to assist the Maltese adjudicating panel. They conducted a special coaching sessions for all the young participants of the competition. Laurence Batty also conducted a separate training session for goalkeepers.
Chelsea FC Director, Paul Smith, in the absence of Chief Executive, Peter Kenyon, sent his wishes to all participants and said: "I am sure the competition will be a great success, and who knows, it may uncover some football stars of the future."
The Challenge ended with the Presentation of the Emirates Airline Young Footballer Challenge Shield and Prizes. Each participant was presented with a Certificate and a medal from Chelsea FC and other Chelsea and Emirates branded gifts.
Emirates District Manager, Paul Fleri Soler presented the Emirates Airline Young Footballer Challenge Shield to Clyde Borg, an eleven year old from Mellieha SC Football Youth Nursery. He has been coached by Tancred Mizzi who coaches the Under 11s. Clyde Borg has also won the Under 11 category of the Challenge.
The runner-up of this third edition was Tristan Caruana from Paola Hibs FC Youth Nursery. Tristan won the Under 12 category and he was coached by Winston Muscat from Paola Hibs FC Youth Nursery. Each winner received a trophy and a prize of Lm100 worth of Chelsea FC branded goods. Both winning Nursery Clubs, Mellieha SC Football YN and Paola Hibs FC YN received Lm150 in cash to purchase equipment for their respective nurseries.
Mr Fleri Soler, while congratulating the winners, said: "Emirates sponsors various high profile sports but it also seeks to encourage sports at grass root level. For this edition we have strengthened our association with the Chelsea Supporters Club - Malta, Chelsea FC, as well as the Youth Football Association. Emirates are pleased to play a significant role in encouraging new talent among young Maltese footballers." Emirates is the official sponsor of Chelsea FC, following a deal worth £24 million, which runs for four years.
Chelsea Supporters Club - Malta President, Joe Anastasi said: "On behalf of Chelsea Football Club, the Chelsea Supporters Club - Malta and the Organising Committee, I would like to thank Emirates Airline for sponsoring this unique event in Malta. Words of thanks also go to the participating Youth Nurseries, the coaches and the young participants who have showed enthusiasm and dedication as well as remarkable talent. For the third successive year, Chelsea Supporters Club - Malta has done every effort to make this Challenge a successful one, year on year. The Challenge is probably the only occasion when all the Youth Nurseries of Malta can take part in a competition in one group and is a unique event in the football calendar."
"A special mention goes to Chris Micallef, the Event co-ordinator and Lawrence Formosa for their support and dedication, our helpers, who are members of CSCM, our guests Chris Harris and Laurence Batty and the Maltese coaches who acted as judges. A special credit also goes to Kennedy Nova Hotel for their extended support for this event," concluded Mr Anastasi.
Once again this year CSCM also organised a separate competition for boys whose parents are members of the Supporters Club. Eleven young participants competed for the CSCM Membership trophy. It was awarded for the second time to Stephen Micallef, a participant from Melita FC Youth Nursery.
- A 7-0 defeat to Germany in Freiburg last month saw Malta lose two places in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking as published on Wednesday. Malta now lies in the 131st place.
However Malta still holds the 46th place among the other UEFA countries. Just ahead of Malta are Moldova (108, down 4), Lithuania (110, down 2) and Northern Ireland (110, up 3), Azerbaijan (112, up 4) and Armenia (116, down 4). The Faroe Islands are now 134th (down 3), Kazakhstan (140, down 4), Andorra (148, down 2), Liechtenstein (152, down 2), Luxembourg (156, down 1) and San Marino (167, down 2).
Following an 8-day training camp in August, Malta will be playing a friendly match against the Faroe Islands on August 18 in Toftir. Malta then hosts Sweden in the first match from the World Cup qualifiers at Ta' Qali on September 4 before playing Iceland at Ta' Qali on October 9 and Bulgaria in Sofia on October 13. A month later, on November 17, Malta hosts Hungary at Ta' Qali.
- Tuesday 15th June, 2004 is the day on which UEFA officially becomes 50 years old.
This special milestone will be commemorated all over Europe and also during UEFA Euro 2004 commencing next Saturday in Portugal.
To commemorate this occasion, around 20,000 special Jubilee balloons will be released across Europe at some time during the day on the 15th June.
In Malta, this particular event will be commemorated by the release of fifty (50) special Jubilee balloons by children of the Football Nurseries. Attached to these balloons will be cards and the finders of these cards can send them to UEFA to claim UEFA souvenirs.
Also among all the cards will be two (2) which entitle the lucky finders to two complimentary tickets for next year’s UEFA Chanpions League Final.
The event will be held on Tuesday, 15th June, 2004, in front of the Millenium Stand of the National Stadium, Ta’ Qali, at 14:00.
- Sliema Wanderers midfielder Jamie Pace, who was on loan with Valletta for the past five months, will be joining Marsaxlokk.
The Wanderers announced that they have reached an agreeement with the Southseasiders over the transfer of Pace and David Camilleri. Camilleri, a product of Hamrun Spartans, was already on loan with Marsaxlokk last season.
Jamie Pace, who is a product of the Sliema nursery, had moved to the UK only to return to Malta in 2001 where he joined Pietà Hotspurs. After two successful seasons with the Hotspurs, he joined Sliema Wanderers last summer. However he only made a couple of appearances in the starting line-up and he was usually being included as a substitute.
Meanwhile Sliema transfer-listed four players who were loaned to other clubs last season. The four players are Nenad Veselji, Massimo Grima, Stefano Grima and Stefan Zahra.
Massimo Grima and Veselji were loaned to Valletta in January. Massimo had joined Sliema in 1998 from Pietà. However in the past two years, he failed to conquer a regular place in the Wanderers' starting line-up especially after serving a lenghty ban early last season. Veselji, on the other hand, had joined the Blues in 2001 after playing for Floriana, Valletta and Birkirkara.
Although Stefano Grima is a product of the Sliema nursery, he only made a couple of appearances in season 1996-1997, before being loaned to Naxxar Lions, St. Andrews and Marsa. After starting this season with the Blues, he was loaned to Balzan Youths.
On the other hand, Stefan Zahra is a product of Birkirkara. After being loaned to St. Patrick and Lija Athletic, he joined Sliema in 2001 but was first loaned to Hamrun and Balzan this season.
- During the Extraordinary General Meeting of Msida St. Joseph which was held on Sunday, Notaio Roberto Goveani announced that he will be contesting the elections to become the club's next President.
The purpose of the Extraordinary General Meeting was to discuss the proposed amendments to the club's Statute. These were unanimously approved by the members present.
Notaio Goveani address the club's members where he showed his appreciation and satisfaction for the approval of all the amendments proposed by the outgoing Committee. He also said he was proud and glad that his enthusiasm for this project is being reflected in the members and supporters of the club.
The Committee also announced that the Annual General Meeting will be held this Sunday at the premises of the club's Nursery at Mater Dei School in Msida. Elections for all the posts according to the amended statute will also be held.
All the members of the club are requested to attend and participate in such an important decision for the future of the club.
- The Valletta FC Nursery is accepting applications for the position of Head Coach (A or B license) and qualified coaches who are interested in forming part of the Nursery coaching staff for season 2004/2005. Coaches who used to form part of the previous Nursery coaching staff must also apply.
A detailed C.V. has to be sent by Saturday 26th June to: Valletta FC Nursery, Coaching Staff, PO Box 46, Valletta. For more information contact 79064453 or 79224674.
- The MFA Technical Centre will be organising an Instructional Meeting on Monday 14th June, 2004, for holders of 'A' and 'B', UEFA 'A' and UEFA 'B' licence coaches.
This theoretical meeting will be held at the Centenary Hall, Ta' Qali and will commence at 17:30.
- Although clubs will be able to register an unlimited number of players coming from the EU/EEA, there should be a minimum of eight players local players on the field of play.
And a club may only have three foreign players, including those coming from the EU/EEA, if it decides to have other foreigners coming from non-EU countries.
The new regulations regarding the registration and eligibility of players following Malta's entry in the EU were the main topic on the agenda during a seminar which was held on Monday morning at the Centenary Hall, Ta' Qali.
As a result of Malta's EU accession, players who are citizens of the EU (Germany, France, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ireland and Austria together with Cyprus, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic and Slovakia) or the EEA (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) now hold the right to work in Malta and following the EU Court of Justice ruling in 1995 on the Bosman case, players coming from these countries could no longer be considered as foreigners.
The Malta Football Association therefore changed its regulations in order to be in conformity with the law. In doing this, the association kept under consideration how Maltese football, and especially the Youth Sector, could be protected and that the changes concern only Non-Amateur football.
The association made it clear to separate the right for a player to register as a full-time non-amateur player from the conditions necessary for a player to be able to play in competitive matches.
Restrictions as regards registration of players who are EU/EEA citizens by member clubs who hold a semi-professional status and as regards the registration of players who hold the legal right for the freedom of movement in Malta while having the legal right of working in Malta, were therefore removed.
Players who do not satisfy one of these conditions are therefore considered as foreigners.
However an exception on this matter is in the case of full-time non-amateur players whose contract expires on July 1, 2004. In such case, a club may retain these players as long as the registration of the player and the contract between the player and club were deposited before February 1, 2004; the contract expires after July 1, 2004 and until the contract expires.
The Malta Football Association feels the competition rules stipulate who is eligible to take part in its competitions and that such rule is based on the principle of the specificity of sport and not on the principle of nationality and hence does not breech any laws.
This principle will be discussed by UEFA in a meeting for presidents and general secretaries of member associations which will be held in Portugal in the first week of July. The objective is to introduce a rule, based on the same argument, will be adopted for UEFA competitions as from season 2005/2006.
Although Sliema Wanderers president Robert Arrigo says such a rule goes against Article 48 of EC Treaty, to challenge this rule one has to challenge the Malta Football Association in court.
However, according to the statute of the Malta Football Association, a club taking the association to court leads the member club to immediate expulsion from the association.
The competition rules which were recently amended now state that for competitions for senior teams, a team should field at least eight players who should have been registered with the Malta Football Association and hence with a member club or with a club within the Gozo FA. Otherwise the players should have been eligible to play in the Youth League of the Malta Football Association and/or the Junior Leagues of the Youth FA and/or the Gozo FA Youth League.
One of these players may be substituted only with a player qualifying under similar conditions.
As a transitional measure, those players who were registered with a member club and/or GFA club before February 1, 2004 and who were eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions for national teams, will be considered as eligible to play as one of the eight players, even if they were not registered and were not eligible to play in the Youth/Junior Competitions.
In other words, there should be a minimum of eight Maltese players or players who played for three years with a local youth nursery.
In all other competitions (Youths and Women's Competitions), in each match, there should be at least nine players who are eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions for national teams.
A Premier League club may register up to:
- three non-EU/EEA players if all the players on the club's books are eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions;
- two non-EU/EEA players if all the players on the club's books, except for one, are eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions and
- one non-EU/EEA player if all the players on the club's books, except for two, are eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions.
If a club, while having such registered players, registers other players from the EU/EEA, these will be considered as non-bona fide players and will no longer be considered to be eligible to take part in MFA competitions. However the club is still obliged to honour the conditions implied by the contract of these foreign players.
This means that if a club has three or more players coming from the EU and/or EEA, no other players non-EU/EEA players could be registered.
First Division club may register one foreign player if all the players on the club's books are eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions. The foreign player will however be considered as non-bona fide player and will no longer be considered to be eligible to play in MFA competitions once the club registers a EU/EEA player which is not eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions.
Second and Third Division clubs may register amateur foreign players as long as:
- the club has no EU/EEA players who is not eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions
- the player played at least 50% of the Youth League matches over the last two consecutive years and
- the player retains the amateur status.
Clubs may have Youth players registered with the club even if they are not eligible to represent Malta in FIFA and/or UEFA competitions as long as MFA and FIFA rules as regards the registration of players under age are being observed and as long as these players are registered only to take part in Youth Competitions and the Women's League.
When registering Full-Time Non-Amateur players, a club should make sure that a new contract should include a clause that if the club may not retain the player, the contract may be terminated:
- if the club is relegated - at the end of the season during which the club was relegated
- if the club loses the Semi-Professional Status - on the day the club loses such status
- for any other reason - on the day the decision that the club can no longer retain foreign players is taken.
- MFA Vice-President and chairman of the MFA, Youth, Amateur and Grassroots Committee, Ludovico Micallef spoke about the
Licensing of Football Nurseries.
Micallef said the key objectives were to:
promote and improve sporting standards in the nurseries,
improve the quality and administration of the football nurseries,
strengthen the technical capacities of the nurseries,
increase the focus on the training and care of young players,
provide incentives for the clubs to invest in Nurseries, and hence for the future.
Licences, which are issued by the MFA on recommendation by MFA Amateur and Youth Committee, are valid for one season.
Applications should be made in July, jointly by the Parent club and the Nursery.
There are three criteria which are analysed before a licence is issued:
Administrative & Legal Criteria: Management Committee and premises; 4 persons of which one is an MFA qualified administrator; 3 officials - a President, a Secretary and a Treasurer; irreproachable character; keep updated record of number of children attending; record of pre-season medical examinations and accounts in order with its own statute.
Sporting Criteria: takes part in Junior League and Football Tournaments organised by the Youth FA; organises football tournaments and festivals.
Technical Criteria: Adequate training facilities; Adequate amount of equipment; Abides by Syllabus issued by MFA Technical Centre; Head Coach - UEFA B or MFA B Level; Minimum number of MFA qualified coaches and helpers and Different age brackets for children attending.
There are three categories of licenses with the nursery having to apply for the particular licence.
Cater for at least 20 registered children in U-8, U-10, U-12, U-14 and U-16 age brackets.
2 training sessions per week for each age group
participate in U-14 and U-16 leagues and YFA tournaments/festivals
organise one tournament in the U-8, U-10 and U-12 age groups
Liase and organise with local school authorities, football activities for school children
Must nominate 2 persons between age of 14 and 35 to act as club asst referees
Cater for at least 20 registered children in U-10, U-12, U-14 and U-16 age brackets
2 training sessions per week for each age group
participate in U-14 and U-16 leagues and YFA tournaments/festivals
Must nominate 2 persons between age of 14 and 35 to act as club asst referees
Cater for at least 20 registered children in U-10 or U-12 and U-14 or U-16
2 training sessions per week for each age group
participate in U-14 or U-16 and YFA tournaments/festivals
Another topic on the agenda was the "The MFA Doping Charter - Recent Changes".
The Malta Football Association regulations are now in line with UEFA on penalties. For the first offence, a player may be suspended 12 months, 24 months or more for the second offence and a life ban for the third offence.
As soon as a player tests positive, there should be a temporary suspension which is then put into effect or revoked, depending on tests on the B-sample.
According to the MFA Doping charter, each case now has to to be reported to FIFA. In and out-of-competition testing are now provided for.
- Gozo - Promotion/Relegation Decider Kercem A. vs St. Lawrence S. 3-1
- Marsaxlokk midfielder Donatas Vencevicius scored the only goal for Lithuania in a friendly match against Portugal in Setubal on Saturday.
Portugal were ahead within three minutes as Couto headed in Luís Figo's corner. Nine minutes later, Pauleta lobbed Lithuanian goalkeeper Gintaras Stauce to double the lead.
Donatas Vencevicius pulled one back from the penalty spot on 72 minutes, but late on Nuno Gomes shot in and Hélder Postiga made it 4-1 with his header from Miguel's cross.
- Floriana FC would like to inform all Members that the Annual General Meeting of the club will be held on Friday 11th June 2004 at 18:15 at the Vilhena Band Club in Floriana.
Voting for the New Committee elect will take place on Friday 11th June after the Annual General Meeting and on Sunday 13th June between 09:00 and 12:00.
- Gozo - GFA Cup Final Nadur Y. vs Zebbug R. 4-2
- Robert Micallef, who resigned from his post as Marsa FC president last week, says the initiative to call an Extraordinary General Meeting was only meant to harm his reputation just a few days before the European Parliament elections for which Micallef is a candidate.
In a statement sent to maltafootball.com, Robert Micallef says "I refer to the report regarding Marsa FC published on Thursday which I think is fair and factual. However I think that some points should be clarified and highlighted. First, I was never against having a meeting to discuss the club finances. However, there was no point in having a special meeting three weeks before the Annual General Meeting which the committee was planning to organize as usual. Club finances are an important part of the agenda of every AGM. I have been a benefactor to the club financially over the last year and I welcome any opportunity for club members to acknowledge this fact."
"The scope of the EGM initiative was purely part of a plan designed to harm my reputation on the eve of the forthcoming EP elections. The anonymous letter full of false allegations that was sent to the media and referring to the so-called EGM was circulated, as you state in your report, just days prior to the meeting. The intention of whoever sent the malicious letters was that they become the subject of the meeting instead of club matters. That is why following court action late on Saturday the Judge accepted my request to issue a warrant of prohibitory injunction to stop the EGM from being held the following morning. "
"Regarding the MFA council's position, I would like to state that my court action was done purely on a personal level and not as Marsa FC president. That is why following legal advice I resigned as president before I took my case to the court. I had the full backing of all the other committee members including club secretary Dr Leslie Cuschieri, who all resigned as a sign of support. And my action was directed against Mr Mercieca personally since he was acting outside his capacity of committee member. The committee did not approve holding the EGM because the Annual General meeting was only three weeks away. In fact the circular that was sent by Mr Mercieca to club members inviting them to the EGM was unauthorized and sent on falsified club letterheads. "
"I was elected president of the club last year at a time when the club was in a financial crisis following two years of Premiership football and I was given a mandate to work on a three year plan to turn around the club's situation and turn it into a company according to MFA guidelines. In less than a year, we managed to cancel most of the club debts and were on track with the rest of the plan. We were also negotiating sponsorship deals and were close to concluding an attractive collaboration agreement with an English First Division club which included a youth football development scheme."
"When I was elected Mr Mercieca was reaching the end of a two year suspension imposed on him by the MFA due to violent conduct. We gave him a second chance by co-opting him to the committee during this past season. The MFA has to decide whether to back people who want to contribute and invest in the development of Maltese football or people like Mr Mercieca."
- Naxxar Lions midfielder Roderick Spiteri tested positive in a doping test which was carried out after the MIA First Division match between Naxxar and San Gwann on May 8. San Gwann won the game 3-2.
Roderick Spiteri was suspended temporarily and his case will be taken in front of the Executive of the Malta Football Association.
Three other players were tested during the same game: Ramon Schembri of Naxxar together with Joseph Achokwu and Chris Agius of San Gwann.
Meanwhile the Executive will be hearing the case of Msida striker Jeremy Agius who tested positive in the Premier League clash between Balzan Youths and Msida St. Joseph.
On the other hand, a random test will be carried out on another Premier League who tested positive in a doping test which was carried out during the second week of April (Balzan-Msida and Pietà-Sliema).
This player was not suspended as there lie doubts on whether the substance for which he tested positive was something he had taken or whether it was a substance produced by the body.
Doping tests on Massimo Grima and Mark Barbara of Valletta, Trevor Templeman and David Camilleri of Marsaxlokk after the FA Trophy semi-final all provided negative results. Other tests were carried out after the semi-final between Sliema and Birkirkara.
- Despite making just 17 appearances in 46 league matches, English Third Division side Mansfield Town offered Malta international defender Luke Dimech a new contract.
Dimech was in fact one of 12 out-of-contract players who have been offered new contracts. The other players are Bobby Hassell, Rhys Day, Dave Artell, Jake Buxton, Adam Eaton, Liam Lawrence, Craig Disley, Neil MacKenzie, Tom Curtis, Lee Williamson and Junior Mendes. These were given 30 days to respond.
On the other hand, eight players - Tony Vaughan, Jamie Clarke, Chris Beardsley, Craig Mitchell, Andy White, Iyseden Christie, Mark Hurst and Laurent D'Jaffo were released by the club.
Mansfield Town missed out on promotion after losing the Third Division play-offs final on penalties. Following a goalless draw, Huddersfield Town won the penalty shoot-out 4-1.
- Gozo - First Division Relegation Play-Offs Xewkija T. vs Kercem A. 2-1
- The town of Kalkara will be once again represented in the competitions of the Malta Football Association after the Council approved the application of Kalkara St. Joseph to take part in the Third Division League next season.
With the applications of Ta' Xbiex and Mgarr United also being accepted, this means that seventeen clubs will be taking part in the Third Division League 2004/2005.
The last club to represent Kalkara in the MFA competitions was Kalkara United.
Kalkara United's last appearance goes back to season 1996/97 when they placed fifth in Division 3 Section B.
Financial difficulties that had plagued the club for a number of years led to the club being dissolved in 1997.
But now thanks to an initiative of the Kalkara local council, a new club was formed under the name of Kalkara St. Joseph.
- The Premier League 2004/05 will kick-off rather late next season as the first two matches will be played on Tuesday September 7th. This is due to the fact that Malta will be playing the first World Cup qualifier against Sweden on September 4.
The draw for the National League - Premier League, First Division, Second Division and Third Division Leagues will be held on July 12.
No less than 23 matches will be played in 24 days during the month of September.
Unlike last season, Premier League matches will usually be played on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Premier League first phase comes to an end on February 13th. The second phase gets underway on February 19.
The Super Cup, which will be contested by Premier League champions and FA Trophy winners Sliema Wanderers and Premier League runners-up Birkirkara, will be played on August 24. However if Birkirkara reach the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup, a new date will have to be found.
It was decided that the competition will no longer be played in May but in August now that the qualifying rounds of the Champions League and UEFA Cup are played in July.
The FA Trophy first round will be played on November 6, 7 and 14; the second round on December 26 and the quarter-finals on April 2 and 3. The semi-finals will be played on May 13 and 14 while the final is scheduled for May 20.
The Euro Cup, earlier known as the Lowenbrau Cup, will be played on July 5, 7 and 9. The draw will be held on June 28.
The Quadrangular Tournament for the top four clubs, which was earlier known as the Super 5 Tournament, will be played in December. The semi-finals will be held on December 21 and 22 at the Centenary Stadium; the final on December 26 at the National Stadium.
The First Division League kicks-off on September 11 and comes to an end on May 15.
The Second & Third Division Knock-Out gets underway on September 5 and will be over on September 21st. The first matches from the Second Division League will be played on September 25 while the first matches in Division 3 will be played on September 26.
- The Council of the Malta Football Association rejected the resignation of the members of the Marsa FC committee. All the members of the Marsa committee, except for Twanny Mercieca, handed in their resignation last week.
The case goes back a couple of weeks when Marsa FC committee member Twanny Mercieca, who was co-opted in the Marsa committee earlier this season, presented a petition demanding an Extraordinary General Meeting of Marsa FC to discuss the club's finances. However Marsa FC president Robert Micallef, a Labour candidate in the coming European Parliament elections, said this was only meant to harm his candidacy. He based his claim on the fact that an anonymous letter had been circulating in the previous days.
Micallef asked the court to issue a warrant of prohibitory injunction to stop the EGM. A request which was accepted. The two parties then reached an agreement that the EGM would be held after the June 12 elections.
Robert Micallef resigned and as a sign of support, all the remaining members of the committee, except for Twanny Mercieca, resigned as well.
During the meeting of the Council of the Malta FA on Thursday, it was decided that the resignation of the members of the Marsa FC committee could not be accepted. Each member of the Marsa FC committee had to be informed that the committee was obliged to call an Annual General Meeting between June 7th and 25th as stipulated by the regulations of the Malta Football Association.
If the AGM was not called, the Malta Football Association would authorise an AGM called by any five ordinary members of Marsa FC.
Meanwhile the Council will be accusing Micallef for taking legal action against another committee member. In fact according to the regulations of the Malta FA, member clubs, member associations, members and players are precluded from taking legal action against another member clubs, member associations, members and player without the written permission of the Council. The accusation will be heard in one of the coming meetings of the Council.
- Malta placed second from bottom among the 52 UEFA member associations in the 2003/04 UEFA Fair Play Final ranking which was published on Thursday.
Malta obtained an average mark of 7.324 in 26 matches.
Sweden, who placed first in the UEFA Fair Play rankings was awarded an extra place in UEFA Cup qualifying round. The Swedish FA finished with a Fair Play average coefficient of 8.314 over the 65 matches played by Swedish teams in UEFA competitions in 2003/04. This place will be taken by Östers IF.
Another eleven associations - Denmark, Norway, England, Germany, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Finland, Spain, Albania, Armenia and Iceland - finished the season with a Fair Play coefficient of 8.0 or over, and have played enough matches to be taken into consideration. These associations went into a draw from which another two associations were awarded a place in the UEFA Cup. Ukraine and Armenia were the lucky countries in the draw.
UEFA's Fair Play ranking only takes into account national associations that have played what UEFA says is a reasonable" number of games. A cut-off point of 29 matches has been applied. The Fair Play coefficient is based on criteria such as positive play, respect for opponents and the referee, the behaviour of team officials and supporters as well as cautions and dismissals.
- Hibernians will be facing Slaven Belupo and not Kamen Ingrad in the first round of the UEFA Intertoto Cup as the first team who was going to represent Croatia in the competition, NK Osijek, failed to obtain a UEFA licence.
Rijeka, Osijek, Kamen Ingrad and Slaven Belupo had applied to take part. However Rijeka made it to the UEFA Cup and with Osijek failing to obtain a UEFA licence, Kamen Ingrad will be taking the first spot and Slaven the second.
Slaven Belupo placed third in the Croatian First Division - Relegation Pool. They ended their commitments on 40 points, six behind Kamen Ingrad.
They played for the first time in the top division in season 1997/98 and their best placing so far was a fifth place in 1999/2000.
However Slaven Belupo's record in the Intertoto Cup is quite impressive having reached the third round in 2000 and 2001 and even the semi-finals of the competition in 2002.
In 2000, they eliminated Glenavon and Zaglebie Lubin, losing to Sigma Olomouc while in 2001, they had eliminated Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus with a 9-0 aggregate score and Bastia of France 2-0, only losing to Aston Villa on a 2-3 aggregate.
After eliminating Trencín of Slovakia 6-3 (1-3 away, 5-0 at home) on aggregate in the first round, they went on to eliminate Belenenses of Portugal 3-0 (2-0 at home, 1-0 away) and Bulgarian side Marek Dupnitza 6-1 (3-0 in Bulgaria, 3-1 in Croatia). In the semi-finals, they lost 1-2 to Stuttgart in Germany and 0-1 at home.
For Hibernians, this is their third participation in the competition.
The first leg will be played in Malta on June 19 or 20. The second leg will be played in Croatia on June 26 or 27.
- Stefan Giglio won the One Sport Premier Player of the Year.
Giglio placed first ahead of Joe Brincat, Daniel Bogdanovic, Ivan Woods and William Camenzuli.
The awards for the best players in the lower divisions went to Alan Spiteri of Senglea in Division 1, John Camilleri of Gozo FC in Division 2 and Jeffrey Zammit of St Venera in Division 3.
Edward Aquilina received the award for best Maltese Coach.
- Sliema Wanderers announced more activities as part of the celebrations marking the Championship, the FA Trophy, the Super 5 Cup and hence the 100 trophies won in the history of the club.
On Saturday and Sunday, June 5th and 6th, there will be the launching of the new CD marking the 100 trophies won by the club. Two new official colour posters will also be launched - one with the photo of the team which won the championship this season and another with the photos of all the Sliema teams which won the championships throughout the history of the club.
These three souvenirs were produced in a limited edition of just 300 copies and are available as a packet for Lm 5.00.
Between 10:00 and 13:00, there will be an Open Day at the club where fans could take photos with the trophies and one could also order a photo album carrying all the photos of the players and the celebrations which were held last month.
On Saturday at 20:00, there will be a dinner dance at the New Dolmen Hotel, Bugibba. Tickets at Lm 8.50 adults and Lm 5 children under 12 are available from the Miramare Hotel, 60 Depiro Street, Sliema, from committee members and helpers.
On this occasion, the trophies won by Sliema this season will be on display together with 'Ix-Xiha' (The Grandma of All Cups).
- Gozo - First Division Relegation Play-Offs Sannat L. vs Kercem A. 0-2
- Msida St. Joseph will be holding an Extraordinary General Meeting on Sunday June 6th at the hotel 115 The Strand, Sliema at 09:00.
The main items on the agenda is the discussion and approval of the amendments to the statute of Msida St. Joseph FC in view of the involvement of former Torino Calcio president Roberto Goveani in the management of the club.
No elections will be held on Sunday as these will be held the following Sunday during the Annual General Meeting.
Members are encouraged to attend in order to keep updated with the latest developments in the club and to have their say in this important decision.
Goveani will be present for this meeting.
- The Malta Football Association will organise a Seminar for Member Clubs and Member Associations on Monday, 7th June, 2004, at the Centenary Hall, Centenary Stadium, Ta' Qali, starting at 9.00am, with the following Agenda:
- Introduction by the Malta FA President
- "The New Regulations regarding the Registration and Eligibility of Players" - Presentation by Dr J. Mifsud, MFA President
- "Youth Football - Applications for a License by the Football Nurseries" - Presentation by Mr Ludovic Micallef, MFA Vice-President and Chairman of the MFA Youth, Amateur and Grassroots Committee
- "The MFA Doping Charter, Recent Changes" - Presentation by Mr Carmelo Bartolo, MFA Senior Vice-President and Chairman of the MFA Medical Committee and Dr David Attard MD, National 'A' Team Medical Officer and Principal MFA Doctor in charge of Doping Matters.
Council Members, Council Observers, the Presidents and Secretaries of Member Clubs and Member Associations and Committee Member of the respective Club's Football Nursery or their deputies have been invited to attend.
The Member Clubs' Doctor and Physiotherapist or Masseur have also been invited to attend the presentation about the recent changes to the MFA Doping Charter.