- All teams in Divisions 2 and 3, except for Gozo FC, will be taking part in the quick-Keno Second and Third Division Knock-Out. The draw for the Preliminary Round were held at the Centenary Hall, Ta' Qali on Monday.
There are six groups of four teams each and two groups of three. All Preliminary Group Matches will be played between Sunday 3rd and Thursday 21st September.
The winners of each group reach the quarter-finals which will be held on December 23rd and 30th.
The draws were as follows:
Group 1: Ta' Xbiex, St. Andrews, Luqa St. Andrews, Balzan Youths.
Group 2: Birzebbuga St. Peter's, Siggiewi, Zebbug Rangers, Mdina Knights.
Group 3: Gzira United, Mellieha, Ghaxaq, Sta. Venera Lightnings.
Group 4: Lija Athletic, Pembroke Athleta, Zurrieq, Gharghur.
Group 5: Sirens, Melita, Sta. Lucia, Zejtun Corinthians.
Group 6: Fgura United, Mgarr United, Dingli Swallows, Xghajra Tornadoes.
Group 7: Qrendi, Kalkara, Rabat Ajax.
Group 8: Kirkop United, Attard, Gudja United.
Addressing a press conference, MFA president Dr Joe Mifsud said this was the second year of sponsorship by Maltco Lotteries, who are also sponsoring the FA Trophy.
All Second and Third Division clubs are benefitting from this sponsorship as they receive cash prizes for their participation.
The MFA president said Maltco, who have now earned a good reputation in the field of legal betting, felt the duty to support football.
Dr Mifsud thanked the chairman, the board of directors and employees of Maltco Lotteries for their support.
Speaking on behalf of Maltco Lotteries, Mr Mario Camilleri, reciprocated, saying that his Company’s sponsorship is beneficial for the Association and the participating clubs. Finally he expressed his wish for an interesting Quick-Keno competition for the coming season.
- The Carlsberg Hibernians Tournament kicked-off on Monday with the first two matches at the Hibs Ground, Corradino.
In the first match, Hibernians defeated Pietà Hotspurs 1-0.
Thomas Caruana scored the only goal on 25 minutes.
In the second match, Valletta and Marsaxlokk shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Daniel Bogdanovic put Marsaxlokk ahead on 71 minutes but Dylan Zarb equalised a minute later.
The tournament continues on Wednesday with Hibernians facing Marsaxlokk and Valletta meeting Pietà Hotspurs.
- Premier League clubs continue their preparation for the coming season by playing friendly matches.
At the Luxol Ground, Floriana defeated Marsaxlokk 1-0 on Friday thanks to a goal by Nicolò Baldacchino. Both sides lacked a number of players.
Playing for Floriana was Bulgarian midfielder Milen Penchev. After playing for three years with Valetta, Penchev was released by the Citizens last August after playing just two matches due to a serious injury.
Floriana were due to confirm Riad Gango-Rtsa and Anthony Eviparker, who played for the club last season. But one of these players could make way for Penchev as they have already reached a verbal agreement over the other foreigner who will be Brazilian striker Wendell Gomes.
Wendell Gomes played for Marsaxlokk scoring fourteen goals in 25 matches. He is expected to arrive in Malta on Tuesday.
At the Hibs Ground on Saturday, Valletta and Marsa shared the spoils in a goalless draw.
The newly-promoted side has been strengthened with the signing of two new foreigners - Nigerians Essien Mbong and Ikechukwu Chibueze. Both signed a one-year contract.
The signing of Mbong is definitely a major acquisition for Marsa considering the important role in midfield he played during the past eight years with Hibernians.
On the other hand, Chibueze should form an exciting forward-line together with Gilbert Martin. Chibueze has been playing in Malta since 2002 when he joined Mqabba in Division 1. In season 2004/05, he moved to Mosta, helping them win promotion to the Premier League. In his first season in the Premier League, he scored 12 goals in 23 matches.
Meanwhile another 'friendly' match on Friday ended in trouble.
The game between Msida St. Joseph and First Division side Senglea Athletic was abandoned mid-way in the second half with the Saints leading 1-0, thanks to a goal by Ibrahim Babatunde.
Msida's Charles Sciberras kicked Simon Aquilina following a tackle by the latter. The Senglea player ended in hospital.
In another friendly match on Saturday, First Division side Mosta defeated Zurrieq 4-0, goals by Ryan Deguara, Adrian Gatt (2) and Gary Camilleri.
- The Annual General Meeting of the Malta Football Association was held on Saturday at The Centenary Hall, Ta’ Qali.
The main items on the agenda were the Approval of the Report of Activities of the Association (Administrative Report) for the year 2005/2006, the Approval of the Audited Accounts and Balance Sheet of the Association (Financial Report) for the year 2005/2006 and the
Election of the Ordinary Members of the Executive Committee for the year 2006/2007.
Following the approval of the Minutes of last year's Annual General Meeting, the next item on the agenda was the Approval of the Report of Activities of the Association.
This reports includes the association's work in the various sectors - administration, finances and marketing, tribunals, licensing, domestic competitions, international competitions, sports facilities, refereeing and the technical sector.
A number of interesting points emerged from the Administrative Report.
Over the past year, the Malta Football Association generated higher income following the renegotiation of the television rights and advertising for national team matches with Infront AG. Two new sponsorship agreements were signed with Bank of Valletta for the sponsorship of the National League and the Super Cup and Maltco Lotteries for the sponsorship of FA Trophy and the Second & Third Division Knock-Out. Other sponsorship agreements with General Soft Drinks and Multiplus covered the Malta International Football Tournament.
As regards television rights for local matches, the agreement with three television stations and one radio station expired at the end of the season. The association therefore issued a call for applications for television rights which would include the screening of live league matches and possibly some international matches and goal highlights on mobile phones. However the local market seems not to be prepared for this and the association is discussing a new TV and radio rights contract with TV and radio stations.
A total of 1017 matches were organised with matches being played at fourteen different venues. The Centenary Stadium hosted 447 matches, the National Stadium 123 matches and the Pace Grasso Ground 104 matches.
The process for the replacement of the artificial pitch of the Centenary Stadiun is underway. A tender document will be prepared with a foreign expert in order to issue a tender for a FIFA Two-Star artificial turf pitch. A project which will be costing the association thousands of liri.
Attendance for competitive matches amounted to 156,495 spectators, an increase of around 20,000 spectators over the previous season. Except for the BOV First Division League and the Youth League, there was an increase in the number of spectators in all other competitions. There was an increase of around 17,000 spectators for the BOV Premier League which resulted into a gross income of Lm 243,819, out of which the MFA had to pay Lm 37,778 in VAT.
Doping tests were carried out on 40 players in ten matches - six in the Premier League, one in the FA Trophy, two in Division 1 and another in a Third Division Play-Off. Eight tested positive. One for cannabis and two for failing to provide the Therapeutic Use Exemption Form. Two players tested positive but further tests proved that the substance was being produced by the body. Tests on another three players are still being investigated.
The Financial Report
The approval of the Audited Accounts and Balance Sheet of the Association were next.
The MFA's Operating Income amounted to Lm 899,443 with the Expenditure amounting to Lm 553,963.
Income includes Lm 14,475 from local matches; Lm 386,069 from international matches; Lm 433,983 from FIFA and UEFA in subsidies and refunds; Lm 43,050 from sponsorships; Lm 10,072 from disciplinary fines - club fines and damages; Lm 9,690 from other disciplinary fines; LM 12,003 from affiliation fees and other fees and Lm 11,859 from advertising.
On the other hand, expenditure included National Teams Lm 332,039; Salaries Lm67,430; bank loan interest & charges Lm 63,945; MFA officials allowance Lm 28,200; advertising Lm 11,075; referees training allowance Lm 8,646.
Considering an unrealised gain on exchange - Swiss Franc loan of Lm 26,198 and a depreciation of Lm 40,774, the profit, or better the excess of income over expenditure, amounted Lm 330,904.
At the end of season 2004/05, the excess of income over expenditure amounted to Lm 150,311.
The Accumulated fund at the end of the year amounts to Lm 2,193,686
Fixed Assets Lm 4,373,580
Current Assets Lm 642,533
Total Assets Lm 5,016,113
Accumulated Funds & Liabilities
Accumulated Fund Lm 1,289,246
Non-Current Liabilities Lm 3,147, 401
Current Liabilities Lm 579,466
Total Accumulated Fund and Liabilities Lm 5,016,113
Income & Expenditure in detail:
National Teams and Youth Development
Income: Lm 16,889
Expenditure: Lm 346,886 (includes players' training allowance Lm 18,835; bonuses and appearance money Lm 22,730; travelling and accommodation for national teams Lm 167,879; kits and training equipment Lm 23,986; technical staff Lm 85,942; insurance and medical Lm 17,767)
Excess of expenditure over income: Lm 332,039
Income Lm 91,463
Expenditure Lm 77,716
Excess of expenditure over income (following a depreciation amounting to Lm 155,904) Lm 142,157
Income Lm 19,993
Expenditure Lm 12,416
Excess of expenditure over income (following a depreciation amounting to Lm 40,960) Lm 33,383
Income Lm 116,652 (including gates Lm 53,709; bar concessions Lm 16,640; advertising Lm 30,356; broadcasting rights Lm 12,250; car park income Lm 3,697)
Expenditure Lm 77,402 (including wages and personnel expenses Lm 35,705; ground maintenance Lm 33,616)
Excess of income over expenditure (following a depreciation amounting to Lm 12,629) Lm 26, 621
Technical Centre & Training Grounds
Income Lm 40,893 (including complex income Lm 24,512; course fees Lm 9,798; football school subscriptions Lm 4,466)
Expenditure Lm 59,357 (including wages Lm 10,664; travelling allowances Lm 6,066; training grounds maintenance Lm 31,921)
Excess of expenditure over income (following a depreciation amounting to Lm 5,331) Lm 23,795
The Election for the Executive Committee
The election of the Ordinary Members of the Executive Committee for the Year 2006/07 followed.
Three elections were necessary as there were more candidates than vacancies. The result of these elections resulted as follows:
Council Members in representation of First Division clubs: Charles Caruana 54 votes (E), Joseph Schembri 44 votes; John Vella 62 votes (E).
Council Members in representation of Member Clubs in general: Charles Calleja 55 votes (E); Michael Mercieca 31 votes; Charles Scerri 56 votes (E); Joseph Schembri 29 votes;
Council Members in representation of other Member Associations: Lawrence Callus 41 votes; Joseph M. Cassar Naudi 53 votes (E); Raymond Micallef 59 votes (E).
The eleven ordinary members of the Executive Committee will therefore be: Joseph Gauci and Paul Spiteri representing the Premier Division; Charles Caruana and John Vella representing the First Division; Salvu Vella representing the Second Division; Joseph Farrugia (Kirkop) representing the Third Division; Charles Calleja and Charles Scerri representing Member Clubs in general; Joe Micallef representing The Youth FA; Joseph M. Cassar Naudi and Raymond Micallef representing the other Member Associations.
Vincent Curmi & Associates were confirmed as the External Auditor of the Association.
The proposed amendments to the MFA Statute which were submitted by the Council were approved. These amendments were made in order to make the statue fully compatible with FIFA regulations namely, over the membership of clubs and the International Match Calendar.
The motion presented by Sliema
The last item on the agenda were two motions - one presented by the Executive Committee and another by Sliema Wanderers.
The motion presented by the Executive Committee states that "In view of the MFA Official Handbook being published on both a CD-ROM and in a hard-copy, the AGM had to to decide that in case of a conflict between the two copies, the hard-copy should be deemed as the one which has authentic value." The motion was approved.
The other motion was presented by Sliema Wanderers president Hon. Robert Arrigo MP. The motion called for the resignation of the Members of the Administration Board (Bureau); the Members of the Sports Facilities Board and the Officials and/or officers of the Malta Football Association responsible, directly of otherwise for the administration and/or management of the Pace Grasso Sports Facility.
The motion was submitted in view of the case where the groundsman of the Pace Grasso Ground was convicted of having defiled a 13 year old boy and that notwithstanding the severity of the matter this was not raised as a point of discussion within the organs of the association apart from the Bureau and the Executive Committee. It goes on to state that "a decision was taken ... to retain the person so convicted in employment even though his responsibilities put him in direct contact with minors."
A long discussion followed with Sliema delegate John Bugeja, speaking on behalf of Hon Arrigo who is abroad, and MFA President Dr Joe Mifsud addressing the delegates.
Mr Bugeja said that the main aim of the motion was that most people did not agree with the Association's decision in failing to relieve the groundsman of his duties. He said the Association had to protect children but in this case, it failed to take action.
"Those who were responsible failed to take action. We should not make ourselves accomplices in the wrong way the MFA handled the situation."
The Sliema delegate concluded by saying that "with our vote, we show that we do not agree with the decision which was taken."
MFA president Dr Joe Mifsud started by saying that technically the motion was not specific as at one point it called for the resignation while at another point it called for the removal of officials. Removal of officials from their post is only possible for a number of specific reasons mentioned in the MFA Statute. The resignation of board members was also not possible as their term had expired.
Dr Mifsud also pointed out that the Pace Grasso groundsman case was mentioned in the Administrative Report. However there were no objections to the approval of the report, not even from the delegates of the club presenting the motion.
The MFA president said that the motion was being presented by a president of a member club who had the support of an organisation which is external to football family. The motion was labelled as being the result of a personal campaign against himself which has now been going on for a number of years.
Dr Mifsud admitted that the association did not have a legal title on the Pace Grasso Ground but still spent thousands of liri in order to keep the facility up-to-standard not only for the hosting of Youth League matches but also to provide students from the Guze d'Amato Secondary School a ground for recreation.
The association had started discussions with the then Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Joe Cilia in 1997 over a lease agreement but after the change in administration, no agreement was signed.
The MFA president went on to speak about the case, saying the association knew nothing about the case and were first informed by the Agenzija Appogg CEO in February 2006.
The association eventually discovered that the case had taken place in December 2003 but was only reported in May 2004. It was only in January that the person was taken to court. Dr Mifsud said that it was quite strange that it was deemed fit to attack only the MFA for not taking immediate action.
The person involved is a 78-year old, who had a clean criminal record before this case, and who was handed a suspended sentence after pleading guilty.
Just two days before the end of the season for the Pace Grasso Ground, the case was mentioned by the Agenzija Appogg CEO during a TV programme which had nothing to do about child abuse. The association had already informed him that the groundsman's job was going to be terminated at the end of the season.
Dr Mifsud said that the decision taken by the MFA Bureau was not necessarily the best one possible. However the association had never received any kind of complaints from teams or players using the ground or from the school authorities. The Pace Grasso Ground used to host Under-19 matches, where players were always accompanied by officials, and by secondary school students, accompanied by their teachers.
However during school hours, the Pace Grasso groundsman was never present for at least the previous seven months.
The MFA president concluded by saying that the Association is proud of taking a number of initiatives to support the welfare of children including the recent set-up of a programme against substance abuse by players in the youth national teams and that this motion was meant to attack him personally, saying "this is a clear case of green envy."
St. George's Council Member Michael Cutajar presented a counter-motion which stated that:
"1. Since part of the request in the motion goes against the statute of the MFA;
2. since the motion is the result of interference by people outside the football family and
3. since the situation could have been tackled better by all those involved;
the AGM should decide that in future, the authorities should be informed in order for immediate action to be taken to protect children from any possible danger;
the AGM should decide that the motion presented by Sliema Wanderers should not be accepted as what happened should not lead to a vote of no confidence in the Officials of the Malta Football Association."
The motion was seconded by Mr Edward Schembri.
Eighty-one voted in favour, three voted against and seven abstained. The approval of this counter-motion therefore defeated the motion presented by Sliema.
Meanwhile Naxxar Lions council member Dr Joe Mifsud had earlier revealed a set of proposals he sent to the Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, Dolores Cristina. These proposals, related to those who commit sexual abuse, were put forward in order to be considered for inclusion in the Criminal Code.
These proposals include the set-up of a register of people found guilty of committing sexual offences; a person taken to court on such offences should have its name, address and ID card should be listed in such a register which should be kept at police stations. Magistrates should order such persons to stay at least 500m away from schools, youth centres and sports facilities. Police should complete their investigations by not later than three months after receiving reports on such cases. In cases where the person in question works in a school, youth centre or sports facility, the police should inform the organisation about the matter.
- Malta international defender Luke Dimech is set to return to the Premier League as he joins Marsaxlokk.
The twenty-nine year old defender started his career with Lincoln City in England moving to Malta in summer 1995 when he joined Sliema Wanderers. After seven years with the Blues, he moved once again to the UK, signing for Irish side Shamrock Rovers. At the end of the season in Ireland, Dimech returned to Malta, joining Birkirkara in January 2003.
In August 2003, Dimech joined Mansfield Town and after spending two years with the club in League Two, last summer he moved to Chester City. At the end of the season, the player became a free agent as he was not retained by the Blues.
So far, Marsaxlokk had a very quiet transfer campaign, at least compared to recent years.
After releasing foreigners Nuno Gomes and Wendell Gomes, they welcomed back Daniel Bogdanovic who was on loan with Sliema. David Camilleri also returned to the club but was then transferred to Valletta.
A new face in the Marsaxlokk squad is that of Brazilian midfielder Andre Rocha Da Silva. Da Silva arrived in Malta in summer 2003, signing for Floriana. But after spending just over two years with the club, he was released last August and joined Tarxien Rainbows in Division 1.
Another new player for Marsaxlokk should be defender Magnus Okuonghae. A player who new Marsaxlokk coach Brian Talbot knows well as he is a product of Rushden & Diamonds. Until March 2004, Talbot was in fact coach of Rushden & Diamonds.
A product of the Diamonds, twenty-year old Okuonghae is described to be a tall defender/midfielder who possesses plenty of strength. He made his debut for the senior team in 2003/04 but only played on a more regular basis last season.
- The Maltese nationals teams will be wearing new Diadora kits after the Malta Football Association signed a four-year deal with Teamsport.
This was revealed during a press conference which was held at the Centenary Hall, Ta' Qali on Friday. Addressing the media were MFA president Dr Joe Mifsud and Mr Jonathan Darmanin for Teamsport.
Diadora developed two jerseys for the national team. The first one is red with white inserts on the right side, the second is white with red inserts. The goalkeeper will be wearing a blue shirt. The Diadora shirts' main characteristics are the perfect fit that allows the players to move with ease and the extreme lightness of materials which make them transpirant.
Dr Mifsud thanked the sponsors for their initiative and for the enthusiasm shown while the two parties were negotiating. He said the deal will be worth thousands of liri as Teamsport will be supplying these kits for the next four years.
He also thanked the previous suppliers of the national team kits - Tuttosport who sponsored the national team for the past six years.
On behalf of Teamsport, Mr Jonathan Darmanin said the company was glad to enter into this partnership. He said Teamsport were doing their best to contribute to football in Malta.
The company is currently the kit-sponsor of a number of Premier League clubs, namely Birkirkara, Hibernians, Sliema Wanderers, Marsaxlokk and Pietà Hotspurs. Teamsport also sponsors their nurseries.
Mr Darmanin said the Italian sportswear company was looking forward to extend their technical sponsorship to more national teams and eventually agreed to sponsor the Maltese national teams.
He concluded by wishing success to the Maltese national team especially during the EURO 2008 qualifiers.
Meanwhile the MFA president spoke in detail about the national teams' programme for this season.
Dr Mifsud said this will be a very busy season for the 'A' team due the EURO 2008 qualifiers. The first game is against Bosnia-Herzegovina at Ta' Qali on September 2. Four days later, Malta meets Turkey in Frankfurt, Germany. In fact, Turkey chose to play their home game in Frankfurt due to the ban which was imposed on them by FIFA.
The MFA president said the association was working hard in order to achieve a positive result from these two games.
The other qualifiers for this season are against Hungary at Ta' Qali on October 11th, against Moldova away from home on March 24th, Greece at Ta' Qali on March 28th and finally another two matches away from home against Norway on June 2nd and Bosnia-Herzegovina four days later.
In view of these matches, Malta will be playing three friendly matches. The first one is on August 15th against Slovakia in Bratislava. Malta then hosts Lithuania on November 15th and finally Austria on February 7th.
The game against Austria will be marking the 50th anniversary from the first international match played by Malta. Dr Mifsud said the game against Austria paved the way for the MFA's membership within FIFA in 1959 and UEFA in 1960. A committee is working on a number of activities which will mark this anniversary.
But before these friendly matches, the senior side will be going for an intensive nine-day training camp in the Czech Republic.
Dr Mifsud said the association's target for the EURO 2008 is not to end as last in the group.
Season 2006/07 will also be a busy year for the other national teams.
The Under-19 side will be taking in the UEFA Under-19 Championship mini-tournament which will be held between October 15 and 20 in Denmark. Taking part in the same group besides Malta and Denmark are France and Finland.
Towards the end of last season, the team took part in a number of tournaments and will now play a friendly match against the Switzerland Under-19 side on September 2 at the National Stadium. The game will be a curtain-raiser for the EURO 2008 qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Under-17 side will be taking part in the UEFA Under-17 Championship mini-tournament which will be held in Malta between November 17 and 22. Playing in the same group are Andorra, Italy and Serbia.
In view of this tournament, the Under-17 side will be taking part in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup which kicks-off next Monday. Malta will be playing the first game against Bayern Munich on Monday.
The following week the team travels to the Republic of Ireland for a friendly match against their Under 17 side. The team will be taking part in the Chios Island Tournament in Greece between September 1st and 6th and will then play friendly matches against Northern Ireland in Malta on October 3 and 5.
In April, the new Under-17 team will host Cyprus and San Marino in an Easter Tournament.
The Malta Amateur Team will be taking part in the UEFA Regions Cup. The tournament was due to be held in Poland but since the four countries taking part - Poland, Germany, Italy and Malta - failed to agree on the dates for the tournament, there is now the possibility of Malta hosting the tournament in April.
With the appointment of a national Futsal coach, the Malta Football Association will be starting the set-up of a national Futsal team which would take part in the UEFA Futsal Championship 2006/07. The national coach, Michal Striz, who is also a former Czech national team coach, will be arriving in Malta on August 16. He will be assisting clubs in improving the level of the game as interest in Futsal is constantly on the increase.
The Malta Under-21 side will have no competitive matches next season but will still play a number of friendly matches. The first one will be against the Switzerland Under-19 side in Malta on September 6th. The team will be playing another friendly match away from home towards the end of the year and another two matches in the first six months of 2007.
Like the Under-21 side, the Women's National team will not be in action in competitive matches. However the association is hoping to prepare the team by organising international friendly matches for Pierre Brincat's side.
The MFA president concluded by saying that the association was very cautious in spending money but was spending all the amounts of money necessary for the improvement of the national teams at all levels.
A major constraint for our national teams is the lack of players playing top level football abroad. To make up for this, he said the association has worked hard to provide national teams a professional set-up with professional coaches, medical sector and paramedical sector.
Malta is playing the maximum amount of friendly matches as possible by making use of the three dates available for friendlies in the FIFA calendar.
Dr Mifsud appealed for the general public to support the team. He said there is nothing wrong with supporting other countries in international competitions such as the World Cup but they need to support "their team" as well.
"By supporting our players, the team will be able to obtain good results as it was the case in the game against Bulgaria. In fact, the players' effort would be much bigger if they feel their efforts are being appreciated," concluded Dr Mifsud.
- Malta’s National ‘A’ Team will be undergoing its annual pre-season training camp in the Czech Republic between July 30 and August 9, 2006. This is in preparation for the season’s international commitments which this year start with a friendly match against Slovakia on August 16 and resume some weeks later when Malta play Bosnia Herzegovina in their first European Championship 2008 Group qualifying match.
Coach Dusan Fitzel has called up a provisional squad of 24 players from whom he will select 22 to travel to the Czech Republic.
During their stay the Maltese will have an intensive training programme, sometimes comprising two daily sessions, and two friendly matches against teams from the Czech Republic.
The MFA XI will be playing against Mlada Boleslav ‘B’, on 1st August at 17.00 hrs and Bohemians Prague on 8th August at 17.30 hrs.
The following is the preliminary list of 24 players:
goalkeepers Simon Agius (Floriana), Justin Haber (no club), Andrew Hogg (Pieta), Mario Muscat (Hibernians);
defenders Ian Azzopardi (Floriana), Ian Ciantar (Sliema), Luke Dimech (no club), Brian Said (Sliema), Kenneth Scicluna (Birkirkara), Stephen Wellman (Marsaxlokk), Peter Pullicino (Hibernians);
midfielders Roderick Bajada (Sliema), Christian Cassar (Floriana), Trevor Cilia (Floriana), Dyson Falzon (Valletta), Stefan Giglio (Sliema), Claude Mattocks (Sliema), Jaime Pace (Marsaxlokk) Kevin Sammut (Marsaxlokk), Gareth Sciberras (Marsaxlokk) and
forwards Gilbert Agius (Valletta), Andre Schembri (Marsaxlokk), Terence Scerri, (Hibernians), Ivan Woods (Sliema).
The selected 22 players will be led by Mr Fitzel, assistant coach Mark Miller, national team secretary Mr Ivan Vella and other technical staff.
The contingent is due to fly to Prague on Sunday 30th July and will arrive back on Wednesday 9th August.
- The Malta Under-17 National Team will be participating in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup 2006, a well-established and renowned International Youth Football Tournament which is being held in Northern Ireland between 30th July and 4th August.
The Malta Under-17 side will follow up this tournament with an International Friendly against their counterparts from the Republic of Ireland on Sunday, 6th August at 19.00 hrs.
In the Milk Cup, the Maltese were drawn in the Premier Section where they are due to meet Bayern Munich on Monday 31st July at 19.00 hrs and then Londonderry on Tuesday at 15.30 hrs
Subsequent matches between qualifying teams from all sections will be held on Wednesday (quarter-finals), Thursday (semi-finals) and Friday (Final).
The squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Michael Incorvaja (Sliema), Nicholas Vella (San Gwann)
Defenders: Owen Bugeja (Floriana), Paul Kane Farrugia (Sliema), Keith Fenech (B’Kara), Chris McKay (Pieta), Melchior Vella (Pieta), Jonathan Xerri (Hibernians), Giuseppe Muscat (Sliema)
Midfielders: Nathan Busuttil (Pieta), Miguel Ciantar (Sliema), Sheldon Grech (Pieta), Mark Scerri (Sliema)
Forwards: Dylon Grima (Pieta), Leighton Grech (Hibernians).
The team will be under the charge of coach Oliver Spiteri and assistant coach Charles Scerri.
- Msida St. Joseph have succeeded in signing another three players for the coming season. In fact, the Saints signed Manuel Bartolo, Luke Vella Critien and Stacey Vella, all from First Division side San Gwann.
Twenty-four year old goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo has now signed a long-term contract with the club after being on loan for the past six months.
The other two players are twenty year old Luke Vella Critien and ninteen year old Stacey Vella. The two defenders join Msida St. Joseph on loan till end of season 2006/07 with the option of signing a permanent deal next season.
Meanwhile two friendly matches are scheduled for next week at the Hibs Ground. They face champions Birkirkara on Thursday 3 and Mosta on Saturday 5. Both games kick off at 18.00.
Meanwhile the Under-19 side will be having a players' meeting on Tuesday at 20.00. The following day, the team starts pre-season training.
- UEFA Cup Sliema Wanderers vs Rapid Bucharest 0-1, Dinamo Bucharest vs Hibernians 5-1
- Nicholas Debattista, Maltese FIFA Assistant Referee, has been appointed Assistant Referee for the UEFA Under 19 Championship final match in Poland.
This is between Spain and Scotland, respective winners over Austria and the Czech Republic in the semifinals, and will be played on Saturday 29 July in Poznan.
With this appointment, twenty-six year old Debattista crowns a very successful participation in these Championships.
- The Youth Football Association signed an agreement with the Management Board of the New Luxol Ground in Pembroke, thanks to which, the association could use the full-size artificial turf pitch and the other facilities for the Under-16 and Under-14 leagues. League matches will be played on Saturday afternoons, Sundays all day and also on other days during the week between September and May.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Youth FA, all competitions organised by the association - leagues, knock-out competitions and festivals at all levels from Under-8 to Under-16 will be played on artificial turf pitches. Nowadays the association organises over 1,600 matches every year.
The association feels this will help to give a stronger contribution to the game by offering a better environment for players and spectators.
Besides the Luxol Ground, the Youth FA has similar agreements with the management of the grounds in San Gwann, Tarxien, the Corradino Hockey Complex and St. Aloysius. The Football Festivals will be held at the artificial turf pitches of the Centenary Stadium, St. Patrick, University, Infetti Ground - Birkirkara, Gudja, Hibernians and Floriana.
In a short speech before the signing of the agreement Youth FA president Fr. Hilary Tagliaferro revealed that the association had always dreamed of organising all matches on such pitches. Therefore it was presenting a gift on the occasion of the 25th anniversary. The Youth FA worked hard together with the help of the sponsors - APS Bank and Simonds Farsons Cisk through the Pepsi brand - and the Malta Football Association. These were the main factors thanks to which the Youth FA could reach its target.
Fr. Hilary appealed for more companies, local councils and the government to support the Youth FA in working not only for the game but for the society as a whole.
A spokesman for the Luxol Ground Management Board said the project was always meant to be used by young footballers and therefore contacts with the Youth FA have been established long ago until finally an agreement between the two parties were reached.
Youth FA president Fr. Hilary Tagliaferro and general secretary Joe Micallef signed the agreement on behalf of the Youth FA while Luxol Grounds chairman Paul Falzon and Luxol CEO Norman Darmanin Demajo signed on behalf of the Management Board. Also present for the signing of the agreement were officials from the Council of the Youth FA, Luxol members and Mr Alfred Triganza, APS Bank Senior Marketing Officer.
- Valletta defeated newly-promoted St. George's 4-2 in a friendly match at the Hibs Ground on Wednesday. The score at half-time was 4-1.
Branko Nisevic, Ian Zammit, Gilbert Agius and Sebastian Monesterolo scored for Valletta with Alfred Effiong and Edoardo Do Nascimento replying for the Cospicua side.
The Citizens had goalkeeper Saviour Darmanin, David Camilleri, Dyson Falzon and Argentinean midfielder Guido Javier Rutili making their first appearance.
Rutili used to play for Club Atletico San Telmo and Sportivo Belgrano - the club with which Omar Sebastian Monesterolo used to play as well.
Meanwhile Alfred Effiong and Edoardo Do Nascimento are two of the players who are currently on trial with St. George's.
The newly-promoted side is in fact looking forward to signing new foreign players in order to strengthen the squad.
Edoardo Do Nascimento 'Bizu' is now well-known locally having played for Floriana and Sliema Wanderers in the Premier League, Nadur Youngsters and Ghajnsielem in Gozo. Last season, he was inactive after breaking a leg just before the season kicked-off.
Nigerian forward Alfred Effiong has been playing in Gozo for the past eighteen months with Kercem Ajax. With the Ajax, Effiong was a regular scorer in the GFA First Division.
Another foreigner who is on trial with the club is Brazilian defender Renato Garcia Conceicao. Conceicao, who played for Ghajnsielem in Gozo last season, turned out for Sliema Wanderers in August 2002 in a UEFA Cup qualifier against Polonia Warsaw.
The Saints are interested in taking on loan Birkirkara goalkeeper Bernard Paris who is also a member of the Malta Under-21 side.
Two players - Wayne Buttigieg and Steve Borda - are expected to join the club on loan from Hibernians.
- Nigerian midfielder Udo Nwoko could still sign for Scottish Premier League side Falkirk although Scottish media had reported last week that the club had decided against signing him and Peter Chizoba Anizoba.
Several media had reported that Falkirk boss John Hughes had decided against signing the two Nigerian players who were on trial with the club.
However on Tuesday, other reports claimed that Falkirk were close to agreeing a deal to sign the young Hibs striker who was on loan with Mosta last season.
The Nigerian recently linked-up with the Bairns for a trial spell and impressed manager John Hughes with his displays during the pre-season tour to the Netherlands.
Hughes is now keen to snap-up Nwoko and has opened talks with his agent, Massimo Franchie.
"We are still in negotiations," Franchie told the Daily Record. "It's more of the final pieces of the transfer with stuff such as compensation to be sorted out as his personal terms won't be a problem."
Nwoko was on target for Falkirk during a friendly match against Turkish side Rizespor in a friendly match in Holland. He notched the equaliser early in the second half. The game was abandoned a few minutes later as a supporter entered the field of play to celebrate. The goalkeeper of the Turkish players chased the supporter to the sidelines and other fans became involved at the side of the pitch.
Speaking after the game, the Falkirk manager said "We came over to play four games and ended up playing three and a half which was unfortunate for our Dutch trialist goalkeeper and Nigerian midfielder who were performing out of their skins. The two lads were very down in the dressing-room at the end but I made a point of assuring them that will have further chances to impress in the rest of our friendly matches."
A product of the Hibernians youth nursery, Nwoko made his Premier League debut in season 2003/04. He was then loaned to Xewkija Tigers in Gozo mid-way through that season. Nwoko spent another season on loan with Xewkija in 2004/05 and last season, he spent another year's loan with Mosta in the Premier League.
On the other hand, Peter Chizoba Anizoba was brought to Malta by Msida St. Joseph from Nigerian side Enyimba but played in Division 1 for St. Patrick in the First Division 2003/04, helping them to win promotion to the Premier League. He played for another season with St. Patrick before moving to San Gwann last season.
Falkirk play their first game from Bank of Scotland Scottish Premier League on Saturday against Dundee United.
- Hibernians will once again organise the now traditional Carlsberg Tournament at the Hibs Ground, Corradino.
Taking part this year are the same four clubs which took part last season - Marsaxlokk, Pietà Hotspurs, Valletta and hosts Hibernians.
The tournament gets underway on Monday with the games Hibs vs Pietà and Valletta vs Marsaxlokk at 18:00 and 20:00 respectively.
- Sliema Wanderers will be hoping to repeat the second-half performance of the first leg which was played in Bucharest as they host Rapid Bucharest in the second leg of the UEFA Cup first qualifying round on Thursday.
Two weeks ago, Rapid scored five goals during the first half. Nicolae Grigore put Rapid ahead after four minutes and Mihai Migurel Buga doubled the score ten minutes later. Marius Marcel Constantin made it 3-0 on 21 minutes. Four minutes from the end of the first half, Buga scored the fourth goal and an own goal just before half-time increased the lead.
However following the substitution of goalkeeper Murphy Akanji and Mauro Di Lello, young substitute goalkeeper Henry Bonello managed to keep a clean sheet after the break.
Bonello is expected to keep his place in goal. This should not be the only change as Ivan Woods and Zdenek Svoboda are also set to be included in the starting line-up. For Svoboda, this will be his first game in the Sliema shirt after replacing Danilo Doncic as the club's third foreigner.
The game, which kicks-off at 18:00, will be conrolled by Serbian referee Milan Karadzic.
- Hibernians will be without Malta international striker Andrew Cohen as they take on Dinamo Bucharest in the second leg of the UEFA Cup first qualifying round on Thursday, kick-off at 20:00 CET.
Cohen underwent a knee surgery in Italy and is ruled out for around a month. He will not be the only Hibs player to miss the game. In fact, Peter Pullicino, Kenneth Spiteri, Jonathan Caruana and Jonathan Pearson who had missed the first leg at Ta' Qali are also ruled out. Adrian Pulis is also be missing from the squad as he is getting married.
At Ta' Qali, an early goal paved the way for a comfortable 4-0 win for Dinamo. Ionel Daniel Danciulescu put Mircea Rednic's side ahead after just four minutes. Claudiu Niculescu scored twice in a minute between the 57th and 58th minute. Stefan Daniel Radu sealed the issue with a fourth goal six minutes from time.
Cormin Iosif Noti was sent off in stoppage time and is therefore ruled out for the second leg.
The game at the Dinamo Stadium will be controlled by Croatian referee Vlado Svilokos.
- Malta international striker Andrew Cohen is ruled out of the second leg of the UEFA Cup first qualifying round clash between Hibernians and Dinamo Bucharest on Thursday. In fact, Cohen will be undergoing knee surgery in Italy.
Cohen will not be the only Hibs player to miss the trip to Bucharest. In fact, Peter Pullicino, Kenneth Spiteri, Jonathan Caruana and Jonathan Pearson who had missed the first leg at Ta' Qali are also ruled out. Adrian Pulis will also be missing from the squad.
At Ta' Qali, an early goal paved the way for a comfortable 4-0 win for Dinamo. Ionel Daniel Danciulescu put Mircea Rednic's side ahead after just four minutes. Claudiu Niculescu scored twice in a minute between the 57th and 58th minute. Stefan Daniel Radu sealed the issue with a fourth goal six minutes from time.
Cormin Iosif Noti was sent off in stoppage time and is therefore ruled out for the second leg.
The game at the Dinamo Stadium in Bucharest, controlled by Croatian referee Vlado Svilokos, kicks-off at 20:00 CET.
- The Gudja Youth Nursery is currently accepting applications for young players, born 2001 and earlier, for next season.
For more information and applications please visit the youth nursery's website at www.geocities.com/gudjayouthnursery, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 99821120.
- Nicholas Debattista, FIFA Assistant Referee, currently in Poland as one of the Assistant Referees in the UEFA Under-19 Championships, has been retained as one of four Assistant Referees for the semi-finals.
So far Nicholas Debattista has been assigned line duties in three matches, namely the opening match between Poland and Austria, that between Scotland and Spain, and the Group A deciding encounter between the host country Poland and Czech Republic.
The four semi-finalists are Austria, Czech Republic, Scotland and Spain. The semifinals are being played on Wednesday, July 26.
Meanwhile the Football Association of Wales has invited Maltese officials for the friendly 'A' international between Wales and Bulgaria on August 15.
Joe Attard has been appointed as Referee, with Alan Camilleri and Joe Rapa as his assistants.
- Malta international striker Michael Mifsud is attracting the interest of Premiership new boys Watford.
Teamtalk and News of the World reported that Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd is considering adding Mifsud to the Vicarage Road squad to give the Hornets a different option up front as they prepare to tackle the Premiership.
Boothroyd was impressed with the 25-year-old striker as he was a constant threat for the Newcastle defence in the first leg of the Intertoto Cup against Lillestrom. Magpies boss Glenn Roeder had singled out Mifsud for his fine performance.
Michael Mifsud's contract with Lillestrom ends at the end of this season. In fact, Lillestrom coach Uwe Rosler had revealed in a interview that the former Sliema Wanderers and Kaiserslautern striker has rejected an offer to sign a new contract a couple of months ago.
Meanwhile Watford offered a trial to former Middlesbrough striker Joseph Desire Job, who spend last season with Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad. The player's agent said the club is assessing the player's fitness at the moment and having a good look at him.
- The Annual General Meeting of the Malta Football Association will be held on Saturday 29th July, 2006 at 09:30 at The Centenary Hall, Ta’ Qali. No elections will be held for the top posts but there will be an election to fill the eleven ordinary seats on the Executive Committee.
On the agenda of the AGM is the Approval of the Minutes of the last Annual General Meeting held on the 30th July 2005, the Approval of the Report of Activities of the Association (Administrative Report) for the year 2005/2006, the Approval of the Audited Accounts and Balance Sheet of the Association (Financial Report) for the year 2005/2006 and the
Election of the Ordinary Members of the Executive Committee for the year 2006/2007.
Additions and/or alterations to the MFA Statute will also be discussed during the meeting while one or more motions could be presented.
The candidates nominated to fill the eleven ordinary seats on the Executive Committee for the year 2006/2007 are the following:
(a) Council Members in representation of Member Clubs in the different Divisions:
(i) Premier Division [two vacancies]: Mr. Joseph Gauci (BKR) and Mr. Paul Spiteri
(ii) First Division [two vacancies]: Mr. Charles Caruana, Mr. Joseph Schembri and Mr. John Vella
(iii) Second Division [one vacancy]: Mr. Salvu Vella
(iv) Third Division [one vacancy]: Mr. Joseph Farrugia
(b) Council Members in representation of Member Clubs in general [two vacancies]:
Mr. Charles Calleja, Mr. Michael Mercieca, Mr. Charles Scerri and Mr. Joseph Schembri
(c) Council Members in representation of The Youth F.A. [one vacancy]: Mr. Joe Micallef
(d) Council Members in representation of the other Member Associations [two vacancies]: Mr. Lawrence Callus, Mr. Joseph M. Cassar Naudi and Mr. Raymond Micallef.
- The Premier League Standing Committee held its Annual General Meeting on Saturday. All clubs competing in the Premier League 2006/2007 were represented in this meeting.
Mr. Anthony Bezzina (Hibernians FC) was unanimously confirmed as Chairman of the Premier League Standing Committee. Mr. Victor Zammit (Birkirkara FC) is to fill the post of Vice-President while Mr Stephen Abela (Hibernians FC) will fill the post of Secretary.
Topmost of the agenda was the way the pedophile case of the "grounds man" at Pace Grasso was handled by the MFA Bureau. After lengthy discussions The Premier League Standing Committee issued the following statement:
"The Premier League Standing Committee unanimously condemns the MFA Officials involved in the issuing of the decision in the case concerning the "groundsman" responsible for Pace Grasso ground Paola.
It is the Premier League Standing Committee's firm belief that such a sensitive case had to be handled with the highest responsibility and transparency so as to safeguard the interests of local football and furthermore that of Maltese society in general."
- The four countries drawn in Group 8 of the Central-East Group of the UEFA Regions Cup Intermediary Round are yet to agree over the organisation of the mini-tournmaent.
Malta was drawn with Italy, Poland and Germany. Since no one of the assocations volunteered to organise the tournament, UEFA ordered Poland to host the six matches.
However another problem cropped up as Poland want to organise the tournament in August, something which Malta and Italy are opposing. Germany had no objections.
If no solution is found, there is a possibility that the tournament is held next year, probably in March.
Malta takes part in the UEFA Regions Cup with an Amateur national team - made up of players who hold an amateur status and have never played Premier League football.
- The Third World Group will be organising a 5-a-side Football Tournament on Friday August 18th.
The tournament will be held at Floriana between 19:00 and 23:00.
There will be four groups with four teams each. The best two teams from each group move on to the next stage.
The application fee is Lm 25 per team. Maximum number of players per team is ten.
- Loyal to the objectives set out at its inception, Premier School of Football teamed up with 'Din L-Art Helwa' organisation to set up another cultural activity for its students.
All the boys together with their coaches, were taken to three interesting cultural sites namely Knisja ta' Bir Miftuh, Torri Mamo and Gnien Il-Mistrieh. Mr John Sare, Din L-Art Helwa representative, gave the boys a brief but detailed history relative to these sites. The boys showed their interest by asking Mr Sare several questions about each and every site.
These activities help the children to understand better our history and culture thus enabling them to be confidently socially conversant about several subject generating in them a better self-esteem.
- Valletta FC Nursery are inviting children to join their football school for the coming season 2006/2007.
Boys from the age of 5 to 16 and girls from 8 to 12, who are interested, are kindly requested to contact the nursery's secretary Adrian Grech on 79224674 or to leave their details at the Salinos Grounds, City Gate, Valletta.
Next season coaching staff will be directed by Paul Zammit as technical director and Anton Cremona as Head Coach.
- The Secretary of the MFA Futsal Department invites applications from Futsal teams wishing to participate in the National Championship 2006/07.
Applications are to be received by not later than Tuesday 8th August, 2006 (Att: The Secretary, Futsal), MFA Headquarters, 280, St Paul's Street Valletta.
The appointment of a foreign coach for the national team, which will be participating in the forthcoming UEFA Futsal Championship, may necessitate changes in the championship format, besides demanding more serious preparation from the clubs.
Therefore it is important that applications on the prescribed Form AA, including the affiliation fee of Lm 25, are received within the stipulated time.
This will make for a smoother programming of fixtures for the championship and the Knock-out competition, which is to be held at the end of the season.
All competitions are scheduled to come to an end late in May 2007.
- Msida St. Joseph strengthened their squad after securing the services of three new players.
A new foreigner in the Msida squad will be Bulgarian central defender Emil Yantchev.
After playing for Levski Sofia, Svetkavica, Naftex and Neftohimik in Bulgaria, the 31-year old midfielder joined Birkirkara last season. In June, he was released by the Stripes.
Mosta defender Pio Sciriha signed a 4-year contract with Msida. This will be the second club for Sciriha after spending ten years with the Blues where he was the team captain.
The third signing is that of midfielder Adrian Farrugia. Farrugia already played for Msida up to season 2004/05 when he left the club to join San Gwann in Division 1. He had started his career with Hamrun Spartans, playing with Tarxien Rainbows and Naxxar Lions as well.
Meanwhile Msida St. Joseph FC will be launching the new website on Sunday on the occasion of the feast of the patron St. Joseph. The website will have a new facelift, will contain more information and will be more user-friendly.
- Msida St. Joseph defeated Scotland Under-19 4-0 in a friendly match at the Luxol Ground. Daniel Nwoke notched a hat-trick with Paul Fenech scoring the other goal.
- UEFA Champions League B36 Torshavn vs Birkirkara 2-2
- Malta international goalkeeper Justin Haber was in action with Sheffield United on Monday as he replaced first-choice Paddy Kenny in the second half of a friendly match at Worksop.
The Blades began the preparations for their Premiership return with a comfortable 5-0 win. They had already take an impressive four-goal lead by the interval.
The club's official website said the Maltese international goalkeeper "looked confident."
On Tuesday, Haber once again played the second half, this time with the Reserves in a game against Unibond League side Mossley. The Blades won 3-2.
- After securing the services of Mosta midfielder Dyson Falzon and former Pietà and Birkirkara goalkeeper Saviour Darmanin, Valletta FC managed to capture former Malta international midfielder David Camilleri from Marsaxlokk.
David Camilleri had just returned to the Southseasiders after spending the last eighteen months on loan with Hibernians. In fact, Camilleri had turned out for Marsaxlokk in the UEFA Intertoto Cup first round matches against NK Zrinjski of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
A product of Hamrun Spartans, he made his Premier League debut with the Spartans in season 1991/92. After Hamrun were relegated to Division 1 at the end of season 1998/99, Camilleri was transferred to Sliema Wanderers. He played for four years with the Blues, moving to Marsaxlokk in summer 2003, spending the first year on loan and then moving on a definite transfer the following season.
- Forty-three clubs are expected to take part in the Youth League next season.
Two teams are not expected to take part - Sta. Lucia and Zejtun Corinthians. They will be replaced by Kalkara and Vittoriosa Stars.
As usual there will be ten teams in each of Sections A, B and C with the leagues being played on a two-round basis. There will be thirteen teams in Section C which will be played on one round.
- Naxxar Lions goalkeeper Kevin Agius will undergo a one-month trail with German Fourth Division side TSV Heiligenstedten. During his visit, Agius is also expected to have a one-week training experience at Bundesliga giants SV Hamburg.
Agius, a Naxxar Lions FC product, was given this opportunity by TSV Heilgenstedten staff coach Yorg Vierkant. While on holiday in Malta, Vierkant was impressed by the performance of young Naxxar goalie while in action in a Youth League match at Sirens ground. He talked to Kevin after the match about a possibility of a trial with his club and informed him about the possiblity of a training practice with Hamburg as he also has contacts there.
Kevin Agius had an excelent season with Naxxar, as he gained the number one shirt of the FIrst Division side in the final stages of the league, helping the Lions to avoid relegation. He was decisive on several occasions, with a string of fine saves including two penalties.
Agius is still a young prospect; born in 1987 his biggest dream for him is to wear the National team jersey.
In Germany, he will be under the guidance of Heilgenstedten coach Cord Bauer. The latter is said to be eager to watch him in action in some pre-season friendly matches. Agius will stay in Germany from the 2nd to the 30th of August.
- The Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, Germany will be hosting the EURO 2008 Group C qualifier between Turkey and Malta on Wednesday September 6th.
Under a FIFA disciplinary ruling, Turkey must play their next three competitive home matches behind closed doors at a neutral venue, following incidents at their FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off second leg against Switzerland in Istanbul last November.
The Commerzbank Arena is the home of Eintracht Frankfurt and was one of the twelve stadiums which were used for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The stadium hosted the games England vs Paraguay, Korea vs Togo, Portugal vs Iran, Netherlands vs Argentina and the quarter-final between Brazil and France.
Malta plays the first game from Group C against Bosnia-Herzegovina at Ta' Qali four days earlier.
- After losing the first leg 0-3 at Ta' Qali, champions Birkirkara will be aiming at regaining lost pride as they face B36 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round on Wednesday in Torshavn.
Two first-half goals by the striker from Ivory Coast - Amed Davy Sylla and a stoppage-time goal by Hanus Thorleifsson gave the champions of the Faroe Islands a most comfortable cushion ahead of the second leg.
Such an unexpected defeat against a team which was ranked lower than Birkirkara hardly leaves any chance for Stephen Azzopardi's side to turn the score in their favour.
In the first leg, the Stripes were a depleted side due to the absence of Mark Anthony Bonnici, Roderick Briffa, Jonathan Holland, Michael Galea, Etienne Barbara, Adrian Ciantar and Antoine Zahra.
Azzopardi hopes to recover one or two of these players but most of all, hopes that his players will perform much better than they did in the first leg.
The game at the Torsvollur Stadium in Torshavn, which kicks-off at 19:00 CET. The referee is Radek Matejek from the Czech Republic.
The team which qualifies will be facing Turkish giants Fenerbahce in the second qualifying round. The first leg will be played in Istanbul on Wednesday 26.
- Champions Birkirkara were drawn to face Marsaxlokk in the first game of the BOV Premier League. The league gets underway on August 19th.
The BOV National League draws were held during a press conference at the Centenary Hall, Ta' Qali on Monday. Addressing the press conference were MFA President Dr Joe Mifsud and Bank of Valletta Chief Executive Officer Mr Tonio Depasquale.
Runners-up Sliema Wanderers will be meeting newly-promoted St. George's while the other team which was promoted from Division 1 - Marsa, take on Msida St. Joseph.
The two teams which contested the final of the U*BET FA Trophy - Floriana and Hibernians, were also drawn together for the first match with Pietà Hotspurs taking on Valletta in the other game.
The following is the complete match sequence. The complete fixtures are usually announced in a few weeks' time.
Floriana: HIB, VAL, SLI, MXLOKK, MARSA, MSI, BKR, STG, PIE.
Hibernians: FLO, SLI, MARSA, BKR, PIE, VAL, MXLOKK, MSI, STG.
Pietà H.: VAL, MXLOKK, MSI, STG, HIB, SLI, MARSA, BKR, FLO.
Valletta: PIE, FLO, MXLOKK, MSI, STG, HIB, SLI, MARSA, BKR.
Sliema Wanderers: STG, HIB, FLO, MARSA, BKR, PIE, VAL, MXLOKK, MSI.
St. George's: SLI, MARSA, BKR, PIE, VAL, MXLOKK, MSI, FLO, HIB.
Marsa: MSI, STG, HIB, SLI, FLO, BKR, PIE, VAL, MXLOKK.
Msida St. Joseph: MARSA, BKR, PIE, VAL, MXLOKK, FLO, STG, HIB, SLI.
Birkirkara: MXLOKK, MSI, STG, HIB, SLI, MARSA, FLO, PIE, VAL.
Marsaxlokk: BKR, PIE, VAL, FLO, MSI, STG, HIB, SLI, MARSA.
Meanwhile after the first two complete programmes of matches in the Premier League starting August 19th, the teams take a break due to the national team's commitments against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey on September 2 and 6 respectively.
Except for another break due to the game against Hungary, all clubs will be in action every weekend until October 22.
Following a month's break due to the re-seeding of the pitch at the National Stadium, during which the first round of the U*BET FA Trophy will be played, the BOV Premier League resumes on November 25 and from then onwards there will be usually four games each weekend.
The first phase ends on February 11 while the second phase gets underway on February 24.
In the mean time, the FA Trophy second round matches will be played on February 17/18.
The Premier League will take another break in March due to the international matches against Moldova and Greece on March 24 and 28 respectively and due to the FA Trophy quarter-finals on April 7/8.
The last game from the BOV Premier League will be played on May 13.
No matches from the BOV Premier League are scheduled to be played at the Centenary Stadium, although some matches could end up being played there if they are postponed.
Speaking before the draw, MFA president Dr Joe Mifsud said the BOV National League turned out to be quite interesting with championship, promotion and relegation issues being decided in the final days of competition.
There was an overall increase in the number of spectators. Spectators increased for all competitions, except the BOV First Division. The number of spectators in the Premier League increased by 17,000.
Negative aspects included the use of offensive language by supporters and damages to seats caused by spectators. Dr Mifsud warned that clubs are those who suffer most as they end up paying fines.
Another negative aspect was the increase in the number of positive cases in doping tests. The MFA President revealed that in order to curb this problem, more doping tests will be carried out at all levels.
Dr Mifsud concluded by thanking the BOV chairman, board of directors and chief executive officer for their support.
BOV CEO Tonio Depasquale said the bank was glad it was supporting the growth of the game in Malta.
He said the increase in the number of spectators was of great satisfaction for all those involved in the game - players, officials and sponsors.
Mr Depasquale remarked he was surprised the attendance for league matches is not bigger considering the fact that everyone is discussing football from day to day. He concluded that BOV's support is even more necessary to make up for the lack of income from gate-money for clubs.
- Newly-promoted Qormi and Vittoriosa Stars will be facing each other in Day 1 of the BOV First Division League which kicks-off on September 3. The last games from Division 1 will be played on May 13.
Mosta and Hamrun Spartans, who were both relegated from the BOV Premier League, take on St. Patrick and Senglea Athletic respectively.
The complete programme for Day 1 is therefore:
San Gwann vs Mqabba,
Qormi vs Vittoriosa S.,
Mosta vs St. Patrick,
Naxxar L. vs Tarxien R.,
Hamrun S. vs Senglea A.
All matches will be played at the Hibs Ground and the Victor Tedesco Stadium, except for two rounds of matches which will be played at the Centenary Stadium - on October 15 and 22.
In the BOV Second Division, Lija Athletic and St. Andrews, who were relegated from Division 1, will face Gudja United and Balzan Youths respectively in their first match.
Division 3 champions Birzebbuga St. Peter's will be meeting Dingli Swallows while the other two teams who were promoted - Sta. Venera Lightnings and Rabat Ajax will face Mellieha and Gozo FC respectively.
The complete programme for Day 1 is:
St. Andrews vs Balzan Y.,
Gudja U. vs Lija A.,
Dingli S. vs Birzebbuga SP,
Melita vs Zebbug R.,
Mellieha vs Sta. Venera L.,
Rabat A. vs Gozo.
The first matches from the BOV Second Division will be played on September 23 with the last games being played on May 5. All matches will be played at the Centenary Stadium, except for Gozo FC's home matches which will be played at the Gozo Stadium.
In the BOV Third Division, the two new clubs - Mdina Knights and Qrendi FC will be facing Attard and Fgura United respectively in their first match.
The complete programme for Day 1 is:
Gzira U. vs Siggiewi,
Ghaxaq vs Pembroke A.,
Gharghur vs Kalkara,
Attard vs Mdina K.,
Zurrieq vs Zejtun C.,
Sirens vs Sta. Lucia,
Ta' Xbiex vs Luqa SA,
Qrendi vs Fgura U.,
Mgarr U. Vs Kirkop U.,
Xghajra T. bye - First game vs Gzira U.
The first matches from the BOV Third Division will be played during on September 24 with the last matches being played on May 5. Second and Third Division clubs' commitments will however start earlier in September with the first round of the quick-KENO Second & Third Division Knock-Out.
- The MFA end-of-season seminar held on Saturday, 15th July at the Centenary Hall, Ta' Qali, focused on three topics which dealt with specific areas of the Association's activities.
As is customary, this annual event was open to top officials of member clubs and member associations, council members, coaches and technical personnel, as well as the media.
MFA President Dr Joe Mifsud was the first speaker. He dealt with the proposals by the MFA Institutions Study Commission on the functions of the Council, the Executive Committee and the Bureau, and the introduction of an Independent Arbitration Tribunal.
Dr Mifsud spoke on the need to revise the vested powers and functions of the various MFA institutions to render their workings more practical and thus bring them more in line with modern exigencies.
He focused mainly on the terms of reference of the Council, both according to the Association's Statute and its regulations, saying that in theory many decisions on legislation, control, discipline, doping, licensing, regulations and competitions have to be taken by the Council.
This was too cumbersome and the need has been felt to remove some of these all-embracing powers from the competence of the Council so as to render its functioning more practical and efficient.
The need for the setting up of an Independent Arbitration Tribunal to serve as a last tribunal to decide on matters of football in disputes between different parties, including the MFA, was also mentioned by Dr Mifsud.
After the Commission's preliminary report, the MFA needs feedback from all those concerned so that proposals for changes can be submitted at an Extraordinary General Meeting.
Mr Ludovico Micallef, MFA Vice-President and Mr Dusan Fitzel, Technical Director and national team coach dealt with youth football and the need for a restructuring of the football nurseries so that maximum benefit can be derived from this important sector of football.
Mr Micallef spoke on plans of a more streamlined set-up while Mr Fitzel touched on how best to implement the idea of dividing the nurseries in eight regions, including Gozo as one Region, each under the charge of an MFA-appointed coach. In this way there will be better monitoring and identification of talent.
Senior Vice-President, Carmel Bartolo, and Dr David Attard MD, MFA Medical Officer, spoke on drug and alcohol abuse at all levels and the MFA's plans to combat this problem through its programme of action.
This work was directed primarily towards the youth sector, starting with those players in the different MFA national youth teams. It was stressed that the aim of embarking on such a plan of action was not to take punitive measures against victims of this malpractice, but to assist them through proper education and to help them seek professional advice if so warranted.
However, the MFA will not stop short of investigating cases where individuals are suspected of inducing youngsters towards making use of prohibitive substances.
- Three Maltese youths, Jean Mathias Vella and Rhys Sullivan from San Gwann, together with Lydon Lee Micallef from the Mosta Youth Football Nurseries, will be attending an intensive pre-season training camp in Asiago - Italy from the 21st till the 30th of July. This course is being organized by Udinese Calcio, the youth development arm of the Serie A club that bears the same name.
The training camp is being organized for a selected hundred youths from the club development programme, and the participation of the Maltese youngsters was made available thanks to the good contacts that some officials from the San Gwann Nursery have with Signor Luigi Infurna from the Udine Club.
Both San Gwann boys are goalkeepers, with Jean forming part of the Under 14 Section B Championship wining team and Knock-out finalists, and Rhys looking out to be equally promising albeit his young age. Lydon plays his trade solidly in a midfield position with one of the strong Mosta FC youth teams.
The boys will be monitored closely by Udinese Primavera Coach Signor Zavattieri as well as head coach Signor Galeone, who will also be with the Senior Squad in Asiago where Udinese are to commence their pre-season friendlies with a game against the local team.
Christopher Sant, Secretary of the San Gwann Nursery commented that the new administrative set-up at his club is enabling the realization of a number of plans that would ultimately benefit youth football in the local football community.
- Adrian Mifsud and Clifton Ciantar swapped places as the former Rabat and Hibernians striker moves to Floriana and the left-flank defender joins his brother Ian at Sliema Wanderers.
Mifsud was already on loan with Floriana last season where he had joined the club on a one-year loan.
A product of Sta. Venera Lightnings, Adrian Mifsud had joined Rabat Ajax in 1995. Mid-way through season 1999/2000, Mifsud was transferred to Hibernians where he stayed until the end of season 2003/04.
On the other hand, Clifton Ciantar has always played for Floriana since making his debut in season 1998/99. Last season, he played just four league matches after suffering a serious injury in the first league game.
Earlier this month, Joe Brincat joined Floriana from Sliema although he is yet to sign the contract as he is suffering from a knee injury.
Goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri, who was on loan with Sliema for the past eighteen months, returns with Floriana. Ian Ciantar returned with Sliema after a one-year loan with the Greens.
Meanwhile Floriana have confirmed two of their foreigners - Riad Gango-Rtsa and Anthony Eviparker. They are reportedly interested in two defenders - Ryan Newell of Mosta and David Camenzuli of Pietà.
Sliema, on the other hand, secured the services of Sharlon Pace on a one-year loan from Valletta and Mark Galea from Pietà.
A product of Gzira United, Sharlon Pace joined Valletta in season 2000/01. He was loaned to Pietà in season 2002/03 and once again for six months the following season.
Mark Galea, on the other hand, started his career with Floriana, making his Premier League debut in season 1993/94. After spending eleven years with the Greens, including short spells on loan with Valletta and Balzan Youths, Galea joined Valletta in summer 2004. Last January, he signed for Pietà.
- Malta international goalkeeper will be on a trial with Premiership side Sheffield United this week.
Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock is keen to bring in cover for first choice Paddy Kenny and have invited several goalkeepers for trials. Frenchman Bertrand Laquait, who plays for Belgian side RSC Charleroi, and Real Zaragoza's Raul Valbuena were in fact on trial this week.
Haber spent last season with French non-league side US Quevilly after his contract with Birkirkara expired at the end of season 2004/05.
A product of Floriana, Justin Haber made his Premier League debut in season 1998/99. Following a short spell in Bulgaria with SK Dobrudzha, Haber joined Birkirkara in summer 2002.
- National coach Dusan Fitzel named a list of 33 players to start pre-season training with the national squad. The national squad starts training on Monday 17th July at the MFA Training Grounds at Ta' Qali.
The squad includes several new faces. Some of these players are, or were, part of the Under-21 squad.
The new faces include goalkeepers Simon Agius of Floriana and Andrew Hogg of Pietà, midfielders Christian Cassar and Dyson Falzon and Hibs striker Terence Scerri.
Sliema Wanderers midfielder Stefan Giglio, who was not being considered for the national squad last season, was also named in the squad.
The national squad will be travelling to the Czech Republic for a training camp between July 30th and August 9th. Then Malta plays a friendly match against Slovakia on August 16th, before the first two EURO 2008 qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina at Ta' Qali on September 2nd and Turkey at a neutral venue four days later.
The thirty-three players are:
goalkeepers AGIUS Simon (Floriana), HABER Justin (no club), HOGG Andrew (Pietà), MUSCAT Mario (Hibs),
defenders AZZOPARDI Ian (Floriana), CIANTAR Ian (Sliema), DIMECH Luke (no club), PULIS Adrian (Hibs), SAID Brian (Sliema), SCICLUNA Kenneth (Birkirkara), WELLMAN Steve (Marsaxlokk),
midfielders AGIUS Andrei (Messina), AGIUS Gilbert (Valletta), ANONAM Orosco (Sliema), BAJADA Roderick (Sliema), BRIFFA Roderick (Birkirkara), CASSAR Christian (Floriana), FALZON Dyson (Valletta), GIGLIO Stefan (Sliema), GRIMA Massimo (Valletta), MALLIA George (Birkirkara), MATTOCKS Claude (Sliema), PACE Jamie (Marsaxlokk), PULLICINO Peter (Hibs), SAMMUT Kevin (Marsaxlokk), SCIBERRAS Gareth (Marsaxlokk),
forwards BARBARA Etienne (Birkirkara), CILIA Trevor (Floriana), COHEN Andrew (Hibs), MIFSUD Michael (Lillestrom), SCHEMBRI Andre (Marsaxlokk), SCERRI Terence (Hibs), WOODS Ivan (Sliema).
- Valletta secured the services of former Malta national goalkeeper Saviour Darmanin.
Starting his career with Pietà Hotspurs in season 1994/95, Darmanin was soon the club's first choice goalkeeper in the Premier League. In January 2005, he moved to Birkirkara on loan for six months. His contract with the Hotspurs expired at the end of that season.
Darmanin was due to join non-league side Vauxhall Motors FC but then joined Ghajnsielem in the GFA First Division.
He made his debut for the national team in a game against Lithuania in February 2002, making six appearances so far.
Darmanin should take the Valletta number one shirt, until last season held by Sean Sullivan.
Meanwhile Valletta transferred Sharlon Pace to Sliema Wanderers, on loan for one season.
A product of Gzira United, Pace joined Valletta in season 2000/01. He was loaned to Pietà in season 2002/03 and once again for six months the following season.
- Malta international striker Michael Mifsud was in excellent form for Lillestrom as they managed to hold Newcastle United in a 1-1 draw at St. James' Park on Saturday in the first leg of the UEFA Intertoto Cup third round.
Michael Mifsud was a constant menace for the Magpies' defence, together with striker Olivier Occean and midfielder Robert Koren.
Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given had already performed two good saves on the Malta international striker before Robert Koren put the visitors ahead on 21 minutes.
Newcastle notched the equaliser five minutes in the second half thanks to former Deportivo La Coruna striker Albert Luque.
The second leg will be played at the Arasen Stadium in Lillestrom on Saturday.
Michael Mifsud is playing regularly for Lillestrom this season, scoring three goals in twelve league matches.
Lillestrom are currently second with 22 points, three behind leaders Brann and four ahead of third-placed Rosenborg.
- The awards for the Footballer of the Year, the Best Players and Top Scorers for the various divisions and Fair Play were presented during the MFA Annual Awards Ceremony which was held on Friday at the Millennium Stand, Ta' Qali.
MFA president Dr Joe Mifsud delivered a short speech during which he spoke about the association's work over the past season and what is being planned for next year. Dr Mifsud said the association was glad all competitions turned out to be quite interesting with some of them being decided in the final days of competition.
The MFA president revealed that once again there was an increase in the number of spectators for competitions. An increase in the number of spectators was recorded in the Premier League, the Second Division and the Third Division.
He went on to mention the two main projects which the association will be working on this year - the installation of a new artificial turf pitch at the Centenary Stadium and the transfer of the MFA Headquarters from Valletta to Ta' Qali.
Dr Mifsud concluded by thanking all those involved in the game - players, officials, supporters, the media and sponsors - namely Bank of Valletta and Maltco Lotteries.
The awards which were presented include:
Footballer of the Year: 1. Andrew Cohen (Hibernians); 2. Michael Galea (Birkirkara); 3. Ivan Woods (Sliema)
Best First Division Player: 1. Mark Tanti (St. Patrick); 2. Christian Calleja (Mqabba); 3. Gilbert Martin (Marsa)
Best Second Division Player: 1. Michael Martin (Melita); 2. Antoine Sacco (Balzan); 3. William Borg (Mellieha)
Best Third Division Player: 1. Jonathan Bezzina (Rabat); 2. Michael Abdilla (Zurrieq); 3. Noel Tabone (Birzebbuga)
Best Youth Player: 1. Edmond Agius (Hibernians); 2. Dylan Zarb (Valletta); 3. Tyrone Farrugia (Msida)
Best Woman Player: 1. Marisa Deguara (Mosta); 2. Dorianne Theuma (Hibernians); 3. Natasha Pace (Melita)
Best Futsal Player: 1. Darko Strinisa (Hibs).
Premier League - 1. Michael Galea (Birkirkara) 19 goals; 2. Daniel Nwoke (Msida) and Ivan Woods 16 goals.
First Division - 1. Chima Dozie (Naxxar) 15 goals; 2. Mark Tanti (St. Patrick) 11 goals; 3. Gilbert Martin (Marsa) 10 goals.
Second Division - 1. Antoine Sacco (Balzan) 19 goals; 2. Ibrahim Tarik (Mellieha) 16 goals; 3. Matthew Borg I (Melita) and Johann Zammit (Qormi) 13 goals.
Third Division - 1. Adam Smeir (Rabat) 18 goals; 2. Neville Farrugia (Birzebbuga) 13 goals; 3. Josef Micallef (Siggiewi) 12 goals.
Women's League - 1. Dorianne Theuma (Hibs) 30 goals; 2. Ylenia Carabott (Hibs) 29 goals; 3. Stephania Farrugia (Birkirkara) 20 goals.
Fair Play Awards: Premier - Mosta; First Division - Lija Athletic; Second Division - Zebbug Rangers; Third Division - Kirkop United; Women's League - Birkirkara; Youths - San Gwann.
Overall Fair Play Award: 1. Lija Athletic; 2. Kirkop United; 3. Mqabba
A Maltco Lotteries representative presented a cheque to all Second and Third Division clubs who took part in the quick-KENO Second & Third Division Knock-Out and to Floriana and Hibernians - finalists of the U*BET FA Trophy.
Also present for the ceremony was Minister for Education, Youth and Employment Dr Louis Galea who also delivered a short speech in which he praised the voluntary work being done in football clubs around Malta and said that the Malta Football Association can now be considered as being an institution in our country.
- Nicky Debattista, Assistant Referee on the FIFA Panel, has been given a prestigious assignment as one of eight neutral Assistant Referees for the 2006 European Under-19 Championship Final Tournament to be held in Poland between the 17th and 29th July, 2006.
The eight countries participating in this tournament are Poland, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain, Turkey, Scotland and Portugal.
The six neutral referees and eight neutral assistant referees will be required to undergo a fitness test which will be held on Monday, prior to the commencement of the tournament, thus ensuring that they are fit enough to officiate during the 13-day championship final.
- A group of 83 players, coaches and supporters will be leaving Malta on Saturday 22nd July to take part in the Wales International Soccer Tournament being held in Aberystwyth, Western Wales.
This tournament formerly known as the Ian Rush Tournament is one of the leading events in the summer football calendar in the U.K. Former illustrious participants include Michael Owen and Andriy Shevchenko.
The Hamrun group led by Chairman Victor Cassar and Head Coaches Stefan Sultana and Marco Grech will be participating in four categories. The 46 boys will be taking part in a programme which includes about 200 matches every day. The boys will be lodged in the University Campus and will be playing in sixteen grass pitches.
Two other groups, one from Melita F.C. nursery and the other from St. Aloysius will be taking part in the same tournament.
- UEFA Cup Hibernians vs Dinamo Bucharest 0-4, Rapid Bucharest vs Sliema Wanderers 5-0
- FIFA has lifted its suspension of the Greek Football Federation after the Greek parliament approved an amendment to its legislation relating to sport.
The moves means Greece will be able to participate in the EURO 2008 qualifiers. Greece was drawn in Group C of the EURO 2008 Qualifying Round together with Turkey, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary and Malta.
FIFA imposed the ban because the original sports law gave the government too much say in running Greek football issues, notably the setting up of the new Super League and the election of federation officers.
Earlier on Wednesday the federation said it had given its approval to a revised sports bill that was passed late on Tuesday night by the Greek government.
"In view of this amendment, the FIFA Emergency Committee deemed that the (federation) is now in a position to respect the statutes and regulations of FIFA as well as those of UEFA," FIFA said in a statement. "As a result, the suspension previously imposed on the Hellenic Football Federation has been lifted as of today."
- All matches from the Youth FA Under-16 and the Under-14 Leagues sponsored by APS Bank will be played on artificial turf as from next season as the association celebrates its 25th anniversary.
The Pepsi Football Festivals were already being played on artificial pitches for the past three years.
As from next season, the Luxol Ground, the St. Aloysius College, the HAM Ground, the San Gwann Ground and the Tarxien Ground will be hosting Youth FA matches. Therefore young players aged 6 to 17 will be having the opportunity to play all matches on artificial turf pitches.
During the YFA's Annual General Meeting, a number of amendments to the statute were approved. One of the most important amendment states that a person who has been accused in Court with breaking any law related to children, will be unable to hold the post of a coach or assistant coach or have any direct or indirect responsibility in a football nursery. Each nursery breaking this rule risks being fined up to Lm 1,000, being suspended or expelled from the association.
Meanwhile the top Youth FA officials were confirmed for the next two years with Fr. Hilary Tagliaferro as president; Godfrey Pecorella and Joe Cassar as vice-presidents; Joe Micallef as general secretary; Alfred Cacciattolo as honorary treasurer; Emanuel Agius, Saviour Bianchi, Victor Mifsud and Francis Zammit as neutral members; Godwin Aquilina (Sta. Venera), Mario DeBattista (Hamrun), Charles Cassar (Rabat), Simon Henwood (Mosta) and Carmel Farrugia (Birzebbugia W.) as members representing nurseries; Joe Mallia as observer; Fr Joe Abela as spiritual director and Frans Zammit as PRO.
The association thanked the Malta Football Association for supporting the Youth FA through the funds obtained from UEFA and appealed for more help by companies to support Youth Football as APS Bank and Pepsi have been doing in the past years.
- The Malta Football Association will be holding its end-of-season seminar. This is an event that has now become a regular activity on its annual calendar.
Such seminars are intended to raise a general awareness in particular areas of activity of the association with a view to seeking ways of improvement.
This year’s Seminar, to be held at the Centenary Hall, Ta’ Qali, on Saturday 15th July starting at 9.30am, will be divided into three parts:
1. Proposals by the MFA Institutions Study Commission on the functions of the Council, the Executive Committee and the Bureau, and the introduction of an Independent Arbitration Board. The presentation will be made by MFA President, Dr Joe Mifsud.
2. Youth Football – The introduction of the football nurseries on a regional basis. This topic will be presented by the MFA Vice-President, Ludovico Micallef, and MFA Technical Director and National Coach, Dusan Fitzel.
3. Abuse in Football – Anti-doping and regulations on the prevention from drug and alcohol abuse. Presentation will be made by the MFA Senior Vice-President, Carmel Bartolo, and Dr David Attard, who is in Head Medical Officer of the National Team.
At the end of each presentation there will be a discussion from the participants.
The Presidents and Secretaries of Member Clubs and Associations are invited for the first part of the seminar. The second part will be open for the Presidents and Secretaries of football nurseries while club doctors are invited for the third part.
- Veteran midfielder Joe Brincat will be making his return with Floriana after signing a two-year contract with the Greens.
A product of Hamrun Spartans, Brincat had joined Floriana mid-way through season 1994/95 for a record transfer fee at that time. He stayed three years with the Greens before moving to Birkirkara in December 1997. He was part of the team which won the Premier League title in 1999/2000.
At the end of season 2001/02, Brincat joined Sliema Wanderers. With the Blues, Brincat won three Premier League titles.
Meanwhile the Greens have also secured the services of goalkeeper Simon Agius. Agius, who was already on loan with the Greens last season, signed a five-year contract.
A product of Birkirkara, he was transferred to Lija Athletic, making his Premier League debut in season 1996/97. He was loaned to Mosta, playing Premier League football with the Blues in season 2002/03.
Floriana had earlier announced the appointment of Joe Grech as coach. Grech, former Msida and Malta Under-17 coach, replaces Jan Artz.
The Greens are interested in Pietà defender David Camenzuli and Sliema Wanderers striker Adrian Mifsud. However they could lose Clifton Ciantar who is set to join Sliema on loan.
- Malta climbed three places and is now 122nd in the new FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking list which was published on Wednesday.
A new method has been used to calculate this World Ranking, which not only introduces major changes in points allocation and the assessment of the opposition's strength, but also makes such factors as the importance of the match and regional strength easier to understand. This new formula and the big points hauls gained from World Cup matches has led to a complete shake up in the ranking. Besides the effect of the World Cup matches, the change in the evaluation period has also led to a major shift. Now only the last four years count, with each year weighted differently.
Since the last ranking which was published in May, Malta played one match against Japan, losing narrowly 1-0 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Among the other European countries, Malta is 46th. Just ahead of Malta are Georgia (87, up 14), Cyprus (92, up 8), Armenia (105, up 4), Iceland (107, down 8) and Azerbaijan (109, up 3). Behind Malta are Liechtenstein (124, down 1), Andorra (131, down 2), Kazakhstan (140, down 5), Faroe Islands (169, down 30), San Marino (191, down 30) and Luxembourg (194, down 42).
Meanwhile world champions Italy's latest triumph is reflected in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. The Azzurri have leaped 11 places to second, behind leaders Brazil. Germany climbed ten places to ninth. Thanks to their performances at the World Cup, three other big gainers are Switzerland (13th, up 22), the Ukraine (15th, up 30) and Ghana (25th, up 23).
The top ten are now Brazil, Italy, Argentina, France, England, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Czech Republic.
The new FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking takes a different look at African football and places teams such as Nigeria and Cameroon, who only narrowly failed to qualify for the World Cup, just outside the Top Ten. As expected, the teams from North America and Asia whom fortune did not favour at the World Cup (Mexico, USA, Iran, Japan and Korea Republic) have slipped down the ranking.
- Hibernians will be hosting FC Dinamo Bucharest in the first leg of the UEFA Cup first qualifying round on Thursday at the National Stadium, kick-off at 21:00.
Buoyed by a fine performance in the Euro Challenge Cup when they managed to claim the first honour of the season, the Paolites will now look forward to giving the strong Romanian side a hard time.
Since last season, the Paolites had a number of changes in their squad with the departure of David Camilleri, who was on loan from Marsaxlokk, and foreigners Essien Mbong, Dave Williamson and Haruna Doda.
However Kevin Cassar returned with the Paolites after spending the last two years on loan with Valletta while Matthew Bartolo and Jonathan Caruana are back from Mosta. Nigerian striker Ndubisi Chukunyere made his return for the club after being released at the end of season 2004/05.
Jonathan Caruana and Peter Pullicino are set to miss the first leg as they are recovering from injuries.
This season, FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti are looking to put a disappointing season behind them. In fact last year, Dinamo placed third, eight points behind champions FC Steaua and three behind Rapid.
New coach Mircea Rednic has been given a two-year contract at Dinamo after leaving SC Vaslui but he must make major changes to his squad. Captain Florentin Petre has left after 18 years to join CSKA Sofia while midfielders Dan Alexa and Stefan Grigorie have joined Politehnica Timisoara. Goalkeeper Cristian Munteanu has decided to take a career break for personal reasons.
Dinamo have made some important signings, though, as they look ahead to playing UEFA Cup football, bringing in former Stuttgart and Wolves striker Ioan Viorel Ganea, left-sided defender Cosmin Pascovici from Farul Constanta, Ghanaian defender George Blay from RAA Louvièroise in Belgium and Serbo-Montenegrin attacking midfielder Sreten Stanic. Their last signing was that of New Zealand goalkeeper Glen Moss.
The team went for an eleven-day training camp in France where they played three friendly matches against Croix de Savoie (0-1), Albertville (9-0) and Olympique Marseille (2-2).
Dinamo's best performance in Europe was in season 1989/90 when they managed to reach the semi-finals of the Cup Winners Cup. They eliminated Dinamo Tirana, Panathinaikos and Partizan Belgrade, losing to Anderlecht in the semi-finals.
Last season, they reached the group stage in the UEFA Cup. After beating Omonia Nicosia in the second qualifying round - the same team which had eliminated Hibernians in the previous round, Dinamo Bucharest humiliated Everton beating them 5-1 in Bucharest, moving on to the group stage on a 5-2 aggregate. In the group stage, they lost to Levski Sofia and Olympique Marseille away from home, beating CSKA Moscow 1-0 in Bucharest.
Dinamo have a record of 55 wins and 22 draws in 142 matches played in Europe. They won the domestic championship seventeen times and the cup twelve times.
Hibernians took part in the UEFA Cup nine times. Last year, Hibs suffered two 3-0 defeats to Omonia Nicosia.
They qualified twice for a further round eliminating Fram Reykjavik (Iceland) in the Cup Winners' Cup 1971/72 and Shelbourne (Ireland) in the UEFA Champions League 2002/03. In Europe, Hibs have a record of eight wins and seven draws in 56 matches.
Hibernians vs Dinamo Bucuresti will be controlled by Russian officials. Referee Igor Zakharov will be assisted by assistant referees Mikhail Novokshonov and Aleksei Monakhov. The fourth official will be Aleksei Tiumin.
The second leg will be played at the Dinamo Stadium on Thursday 27.
- Sliema Wanderers are in for a most difficult test on Thursday as they meet Rapid Bucharest in the first leg of the UEFA Cup first qualifying round at the Giulesti-Valentin Stanescu Stadium, kick-off at 19:30 CET. The squad leaves Malta on Tuesday night.
Coach Edward Aquilina had to leave out of the squad a number of players who are ruled out injured. Czech midfielder Zdenek Svoboda joins Noel Turner, Orosco Anonam and Ivan Woods on the casualty-list. These players all missed the two Euro Challenge Cup matches against Birkirkara and Hibernians last week.
On a positive note, goalkeeper Murphy Akanji should make it to the starting line-up although he is still on the road to full recovery from an injury he sustained eight weeks ago. Young Henry Bonello had replaced him in the Euro Challenge Cup matches.
Since last season, Danilo Doncic and Joe Brincat are no longer in squad. Doncic was released in order to make way for Svoboda while Brincat is set to join Floriana. The only new face is that of Nigerian midfielder Chucks Nwoko, who however is yet to make his debut for his new club.
This will not be the first visit to Malta for Rapid Bucharest. They met Valletta in the UEFA Cup preliminary round in August 1994. In the first leg at Ta' Qali, Rapid registered a most comfortable 6-2 win. The Citizens regained lost pride holding Rapid in a 1-1 draw at the Giulesti Stadium a fortnight later.
Last season, Rapid placed second in the league, five points behind champions Steaua and three ahead of Dinamo. However they went on to win the Romanian Cup after beating National Bucharest 1-0 after extra-time in the final.
This summer, Rapid Bucharest secured the services of 25-year-old Australian forward Ryan Griffiths and Romanian Under-21 international central defender Cristian Sapunaru from city rivals National Bucharest. On the other hand, striker Daniel Niculae was transferred to Auxerre.
Rapid almost lost coach Razvan Lucescu to Politehnica Timisoara only for the coach to change his mind. Lucescu, son of former Brescia, Inter, Galatasaray and Besiktas coach Mircea Lucescu, has been coaching Rapid for the past two years.
The team has just returned from a twelve-day training camp in Switzerland where they played friendly matches against La Chaux-de-Fonds (3-2), French side Lille (1-2), Yverdon (1-1), Ukrainian side Shakthar Donestsk (2-3) and FC Zurich (0-2).
Last season, Rapid had a most successful campaign in Europe when they reached the quarter-finals of the competition. After eliminating Sant Julia (Andorra) and Vardar Skopje (Macedonia) in the qualifying rounds, they managed to beat Feyenoord on a 2-1 aggregate in the first round to reach the group stage. They qualified from a group which included VfB Stuttgart, PAOK Thessaloniki and Shakhtar Donestsk.
In the next two rounds, they eliminated two German teams - Hertha BSC with a 3-0 aggregate score and Hamburger SV on the away-goals rule following a 3-3 draw. In the quarter-finals, they were eliminated by neighbours Steaua Bucuresti on the away goals rule following a 1-1 draw at home and a goalless draw away from home.
Rapid's record in Europe is 31 wins and 15 draws out of 70 matches played in European competitions. They won the championship three times and the cup twelve times.
For Sliema, this will be the fifteenth participation in the UEFA Cup for Sliema, the last time being in 2002.
The Wanderers managed to reach a second round on four occasions - Cup Winners Cup 1968/69 eliminating Rumelange (Luxembourg), Champions Cup 1971/72 eliminating IA Akranes (Iceland), UEFA Cup 1996-97 eliminating Margveti Zestaphoni (Georgia) and Champions League 2003-04 eliminating Skonto Riga (Latvia). In Europe, Sliema have a record of twelve wins and three draws in 72 matches.
Rapid Bucharest vs Sliema Wanderers will be controlled by Israeli officials. Referee Asaf Kenan will be assisted by assistant referees Uzi Basson and Oren Borenshtain and fourth official Tomer Cohen.
The second leg will be played at Ta' Qali on Thursday 27.
- The Greek Football Federation (EPO) has given its approval to a revised sports bill that was passed late on Tuesday night by the Greek government.
According to the EPO chief, Vassilis Gagatsis, the amended law could pave the way for FIFA to lift a suspension it imposed on July 3 on all international contact by European champions Greece. He said the amendment gives EPO sole responsibility for the running of football in Greece.
FIFA imposed the ban because the original sports law gave the government too much say in running Greek football issues, notably the setting up of the new Super League and the election of EPO officers. The ruling means that the national side and club teams are banned from playing any international friendly or competitive matches or any international club matches until the country conforms to FIFA and UEFA regulations. Greece was due to play in Group C of the EURO 2008 Qualifying Round together with Turkey, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary and Malta.
"The amendment of article 29, paragraph 12 of the bill regarding professional sports is a result of an agreement reached with the Sports Ministry and accepted by the Greek Football Federation," Gagatsis announced in a statement on the EPO's official web site.
Sports Minister Georgos Orphanos said that he would inform FIFA, who have already seen a draft of the revised bill, as soon as possible, adding that he expected a swift decision about the lifting of the suspension.
- Champions League Birkirkara vs B36 0-3
- Birkirkara will be hoping to obtain a positive result as they host Faroe Islands champions B36 Torshavn in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round on Tuesday, kick-off at 18:30. However their task will be no easy one as the Stripes could not field their best formation due to the absence of a number of players.
Michael Galea, Etienne Barbara, Jonathan Holland, Adrian Ciantar, Antoine Zahra and possibly Roderick Briffa are in fact ruled out of the first leg which will be played at Ta' Qali.
The Stripes were already in a 'state-of-emergency' last week when they faced Sliema Wanderers and Hibernians with eight and twelve missing players respectively in the Euro Challenge Cup. However for Tuesday's game, Mark Anthony Bonnici, Lino Galea, George Mallia, Roderick Sammut and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, who all missed one or both matches from the Euro Challenge Cup should recover in time. Matthew Calascione will be back after returning to Malta from abroad.
Birkirkara will be able to field their four new foreigners - former Polish national goalkeeper Andrzej Bledzewski, Italian defender Guido Gallovich, Italian midfielder Angelo Paradiso and Moroccan midfielder Hatim Sbai.
Reaching the next round of the competition would provide Birkirkara a lucrative tie with Turkish giants Fenerbahce. The first leg will be played in Turkey on July 26th with the return leg being played on August 2nd.
Meanwhile the clash between Birkirkara and B36 will be the first one between two clubs from Malta and the Faroe Islands.
B36 won the Premier League in the Faroe Islands last year with 54 points from 27 matches, four points ahead of Skála, HB and NSI who all ended second on level points. In the current Premier league campaign, B36 are currently second with 29 points from 15 matches, five points behind leaders EB/Streymur who however played a game more.
This will be the eighth adventure for B36 in the main UEFA competitions. They first took part in the Cup Winners' Cup 1992 when they were eliminated by Avenir Beggen of Luxembourg on a 2-1 aggregate.
Last season, B36 became the first club from the Faroe Islands to progress to the next round when they managed to eliminate IBV Vestmannaeyjar of Iceland following a 1-1 draw away from home and a 2-1 win in Torshavn. In the following round, B36 were eliminated by FC Midtjylland of Denmark following a 2-1 defeat away from home and a 2-2 draw in Torshavn.
B36 took part twice in the Champions League qualifiers, losing out to Beitar Jerusalem of Israel on a 5-1 aggregate in 1998 and to Torpedo Kutaisi of Georgia on a 6-2 aggregate in 2002.
On the other hand, Birkirkara have been participating regularly in UEFA competitions since 1997, taking part in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round in July 2000, losing out to KR Reykjavik 2-6 on aggregate.
They took part in the UEFA Cup eight times, qualifying for a second round in 2001 when they eliminated FC Lokomotiv Tbilisi of Georgia.
The match will be controlled by match officials from Belarus. The referee will be Sergei Shmolik who will be assisted by assistant referees Vasili Kalinovski and Dzmitry Siamionau and fourth official Igor Kruh.
The second leg will be played on Wednesday 19th at the Torsvollur Stadium in Torshavn.
- Greece submitted a revised sports bill to FIFA in a bid to have a ban from all football activities lifted by the sport's ruling body.
"The minister has sent the amended bill to FIFA president Sepp Blatter this morning," a sports ministry official told Reuters. The official refused to say whether FIFA's demands for the Greek football association's full autonomy were met in the revised document. He said it was up to FIFA to make the next move.
Last week, FIFA suspended Greece from all footballing activities on Monday, citing continued government interference in the running of the Greek FA - the Hellenic Football Federation.
The ruling means that the national side and club teams are banned from playing any international friendly or competitive matches or any international club matches until the country conforms to FIFA and UEFA regulations. Greece was due to play in Group C of the EURO 2008 Qualifying Round together with Turkey, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary and Malta.
The Greek FA had urged the minister to change the law immediately to allow Greek teams to start playing in European competitions as early as mid-July.
The government replied it was doing everything possible to end the dispute.
Malta was due to host Greece on March 28, 2007 and the national side was due to play in Athens on November 17, 2007.
- Valletta FC have secured the services of Malta Under-21 and Mosta midfielder Dyson Falzon.
The club's official website www.vallettafcofficial.net reports that Falzon signed a five-year contract with the Citizens.
The Mosta midfielder was attracting the interest of other clubs including Sliema Wanderers.
Falzon started his career with Sirens but then moved to the Mosta youth nursery. He made his debut for the senior side in Division 1 when he was still a fifteen-year old. With Mosta, he won the promotion to the Premier League twice - in season 2001/02 and season 2004-05.
He played for the Under-17 and Under-19 national teams.
Meanwhile Valletta are expected to continue to strengthen their squad with the signing of a new foreigner. A player from Argentina is in fact expected to join Serbian defender Branko Nisevic and Argentinean striker Omar Sebastian Monesterolo.
- After spending the last few months in Bulgaria as coach of Botev Plovdiv, Atanas Marinov will be returning to Malta to coach First Division side Hamrun Spartans.
This will be the second spell for Marinov with Hamrun after coaching the Spartans for two years between season 2001/02 and 2002/03.
He will be replacing Michael Degiorgio who had been coaching Hamrun for the past two years.
Atanas Marinov arrived in Malta ten years ago. He coached St. Patrick for three years, helping them to win promotion to the Premier League in 1997/98. Marinov then moved to Birkirkara. During his twenty-month spell with the Stripes, he managed to lead them to a historic first ever league championship in season 1999/2000. In August 2001, he was appointed as coach of Hamrun Spartans.
He left Hamrun at the end of season 2002/03, moving to Valletta. However after one season with the Citizens, he left to join Marsaxlokk. His experience with the Southseasiders came to an end last October.
- Euro Challenge Cup Hibernians vs Birkirkara 3-2
- Champions Birkirkara will be unable to field their best formation in the first qualifying round clash against B36 Torshavn of the Faroe Islands due to the large number of injured players.
This was revealed by club president Mr Victor Zammit and coach Stephen Azzopardi during a press conference which was held at the club's premises on Friday.
Michael Galea, Etienne Barbara, Roderick Briffa, Adrian Ciantar, Antoine Zahra and possibly Jonathan Holland are in fact ruled out of the first leg which will be played at the National Stadium. Injuries which jeopardise the Stripes' chances of reaching the second qualifying round of the competition where they would meet Turkish giants Fenerbahce in a most lucrative tie.
Players like Mark Anthony Bonnici, Lino Galea, George Mallia, Roderick Sammut and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza missed one or both match from the Euro Challenge Cup but should recover in time for the game. Matthew Calascione will be back after returning to Malta from abroad.
Victor Zammit said the club started preparations for the European competition matches earlier than usual, especially with regards the signing of new foreign players. Thanks to the help of the sporting director of Swiss side Nicola Bignotti, the Birkirkara president had the opportunity to discuss with a number of players' agents in Milan. On his return to Malta, the club's Board of Directors, together with the coach, held discussions over a number of players and agreed to give a trial to two Italian players - Marco Taddonio and Ermanno Leoni and French defender Pascal Mendy.
However following a quite favourable draw, Birkirkara decided to make an extra effort and sign four players who are rated more highly.
The four players are Polish goalkeeper Andrzej Bledzewski, Italian central defender Guido Gallovich, Italian midfielder Angelo Paradiso and Moroccan midfielder Hatim Sbai.
Twenty-nine year old Bledzewski was the captain of the Polish Under-21 side and played for the senior side as well. He played 192 matches in the Polish top division with Baltyk Gdynia, KS Szczakowianka, Gornik Zabrze, Polonia Bytom and Gornik Leczna.
Twenty-four year old central defender Guido Gallovich is a product of Udinese but played for Serie C2 football with Mestre, Pro Vercelli and Castel Di Sangro. In season 2003/2004, he was on the books of Ascoli before moving to Bellinzona the following season. Last January, he joined Italian Serie B side, Triestina.
Twenty-nine year old Angelo Paradiso played in the Serie C for Teramo before moving to Napoli in the Serie B and then Lecce in the Serie A in season 1999/2000. Later that season he moved to Cesena in the Serie B. He then played for Ravenna, Cesena, Lucchese, Bellinzona and Pisa before moving to Chieti in the Serie C1 last September. In 1999, he was voted as one of the most promising youngsters in Italy together with Milan's Andrea Pirlo. When he played for Napoli, Paradiso was a target for both Milan and Juventus.
Nineteen year old Hatim Sbai is a Moroccan left winger who holds a French passport. He used to play for Nimes Olympique in France before moving to Bellinzona in Switzerland.
Victor Zammit said the Euro Challenge Cup was not fulfilling its main objective - that of providing the local clubs taking part in the European competitions the opportunity to try new players. As per the MFA regulations governing competitions, a player has to be registered in order to take part in any competition including the Euro Challenge Cup and no more than three foreign players could be used at the same time. As regards the number of foreign players, he revealed the club will be proposing an amendment during the MFA's Annual General Meeting in order to create an exception to the rule for the Euro Challenge Cup.
The club also found it very difficult in order to register the players ahead of the first Euro Challenge Cup game against Sliema. In fact with the 1st and 2nd July being a Saturday and a Sunday, the club could only register the new players on Monday. However the only International Transfer Certificate to arrive in time was that of Hatim Sbai.
Speaking about next Tuesday's game, Zammit said the club hoped a number of players would recover in time for the game. The team started pre-season training on June 19th but the squad was plagued by injuries which is definitely a major concern was the Stripes. As regards last Wednesday's game, he said it was the first time since he was appointed as Chairman that the club only had two regular players in the starting line-up and just three substitutes on the bench.
The Birkirkara president warned players and supporters to be cautious ahead of the games against B36 as the league in the Faroe Islands is well underway and therefore they are physically better prepared. However Zammit said the club still entertains high hopes of reaching the next stage.
The signing of new local players was not ruled out although the club does not have any particular targets. Chucks Nwoko was the only local player to be released.
As regards the position of Etienne Barbara, Zammit said the player is currently nursing a groin injury. Although he has two years left on his contract with the Stripes, he has been approached by Sliema Wanderers. The Birkirkara president complained that it was not fair for a club to make such an agressive offer for a player who is under contract with another club.
Meanwhile McDonald's have been confirmed as sponsors of Birkirkara FC for the eleventh year running while Teamsport will be providing the Lotto kits.
- Sliema Wanderers secured the services of two new players - Nigerian-born Chucks Nwoko and Czech midfielder Zdenek Svoboda.
Nwoko, who had joined Marsaxlokk on loan in January, signed a four-year contract with Sliema.
He arrived in Malta in summer 1995 to join Birkirkara. He played regularly for the Stripes before joining CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria mid-way through season 2000/2001 for a six-month loan spell. He returned to Malta the following season.
Following the expiry of his contract with Birkirkara at the end of season 2004/05, the player refused to sign a new contract and it was only in September that Nwoko agreed to sign a new one-year contract with an option for another season.
Zdenek Svoboda, on the other hand, will be the club's third foreigner along Nigerian goalkeeper Murphy Akanji and Italian defender Mauro Di Lello.
Thirty-four year old Svoboda, who is also a former national team player, started his career with FC Brunn and then joined Sparta Prague in 1992/93. After ten years with the club, he moved to Belgium where he played for KVC Westerlo. Last year, Svoboda played for BV Cloppenburg in the German Fourth Division - Oberliga.
Since last season, Sliema released Serbian striker Danilo Doncic and Joe Brincat opted to move elsewhere. Goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri returned with Floriana after being on loan for the past eighteen months. Matthew Farrugia, Ian Ciantar, Claude Mattocks, Adrian Mifsud and Brandon Zammit are back with the Blues but some of these players could still be loaned to other clubs.
- Futsal First Division champions Hibernians were drawn with teams from Albania, Bulgaria and Sweden in the Preliminary Round of the 2006/07 UEFA Futsal Cup. The draw was held in Nyon, Switzerland on Thursday.
Hibernians were one of the teams representing six countries who are taking part in the UEFA Futsal Club for the first time. The other countries being represented for the first time are Austria, Germany, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland.
With 40 clubs involved, the sixth edition of the prestigious competition will be the biggest yet. It also promises to be more exciting than ever as the semi-finals and final will be played under a 'final four' format in one venue next April.
The preliminary round in mid-September features 16 sides drawn into four mini-tournament groups. The top team from each pool will join 20 others in October's main round, with the sides split into six groups of four.
Hibs were drawn in Group C together with FC Mladost Sofia of Bulgaria, KF Tirana of Albania and Skovde AIK of Sweden. The tournament will be played in Sofia between September 9th and 17th.
The winners of the group will move on to the Main Round where they will join MNK Split of Croatia, Athina '90 of Greece and Araz Naxcivan (Azerbaijan). The tournament will be played in Croatia between October 9th and 15th.
- Euro Challenge Cup Hibernians vs Birkirkara 3-2
- A First Aid course for all masseurs engaged with MFA Clubs and Nurseries will be held at the MFA Technical Centre, Ta' Qali, in collaboration with St. John's Ambulance Training Branch.
The course, leading to a certificate recognised by the EU, covers the latest techniques on first aid treatment and should be of invaluable help to all those involved with work of this nature.
There will be nine lectures, each of two hours, and held during weekdays. The first lecture will be on Monday 17th July at 18.00 hrs.
Applications are invited from all those interested. Due to a restricted number of participants these will be processed on a first-come first-served basis.
Closing date for application will be Wednesday 12th July, 2006.
More information can be obtained during office hours from Mr Nunzio Frendo, MFA Technical Centre, Ta' Qali. (Tel. 2141 1505 or 2141 1149)
- Five coaching courses are due to be held by the MFA Technical Centre next season.
The coaching courses which will be held are:
CYF Coaching Young Footballers - 14th and 15th October 2006
YDD Youth Development Diploma - 4th to 12th November 2006
CCC Club Coach Certificate - 4th to 7th January 2007
CYF Coaching Young Footballers - 10th and 11th March 2007
UEFA 'A' Diploma Course - 15th to 29th April 2007
Meanwhile six Instructional Meetings for YDD and 'C' Diploma coaches will be held. Each coach is expected to attend for at least four Instructional Meetings to have his licence renewed the following season.
These will be held on the 10th July 2006, 11th September 2006, 13th November 2006, 15th January 2007, 12th March 2007 and 14th May 2007.
The Instructional Meetings held on the 15th May 2006 will count as the first meeting for Season 2006/2007 while the last meeting is to be counted for Season 2007/2008.
- Birkirkara are expected to have four foreign players for the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round clashes against B36 Torshavn of the Faroe Islands next week.
After releasing Emil Yantchev and Precious Monye and the departure of goalkeeper David Simon, the Stripes were forced to search for new foreign players.
Initially these were set to be French defender Pascal Mendy and Italian duo Marco Taddonio and Ermanno Leoni.
In the Euro Challenge Cup game against Sliema, nineteen year old French midfielder Hatim Sbai made his debut for the Stripes. Sbai, who is of Moroccan origins, used to play for Nimes Olympique in France before moving to Bellinzona in Switzerland.
Three new players made their debut for Birkirkara on Wednesday - Polish goalkeeper Andrzej Bledzewski and Italian duo Guido Gallovich and Angelo Paradiso.
Twenty-nine year old Bledzwewski started his career with KS Szczakowianka and played for Gornik Zabrze, Polonia Bytom, Szczakowianka Jaworzno and Baltyk Gdynia. For the past eighteen months, he played for Gornik Leczna.
Like Hatim Sbai, Guido Gallovich joins Birkirkara from Swiss second division side Bellinzona. The 24-year old defender/midfielder is a product of Udinese but played for Serie C2 football with Mestre, Pro Vercelli and Castel Di Sangro. In season 2003/2004, he was on the books of Ascoli before moving to Bellinzona the following season.
Twenty-nine year old Angelo Paradiso is a product of Lazio. He played in the Serie C for Teramo before moving to Napoli in the Serie B and then Lecce in the Serie A in season 1999/2000. Later that season he moved to Cesena in the Serie B. He then played for Ravenna, Cesena, Lucchese, Bellinzona and Pisa before moving to Chieti in the Serie C1 last September.
Meanwhile Birkirkara have released Chucks Nwoko. The Nigerian-born striker, who was on loan with Marsaxlokk since January, joined Sliema Wanderers.
- Euro Challenge Cup Birkirkara vs Sliema W. 0-1
- FIFA suspended Greece from all footballing activities on Monday, citing continued government interference in the running of the Greek FA - the Hellenic Football Federation.
The ruling means that the national side and club teams are banned from playing any international friendly or competitive matches or any international club matches until the country conforms to FIFA and UEFA regulations.
Greece was due to play in Group C of the EURO 2008 Qualifying Round together with Turkey, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary and Malta.
Malta was due to host Greece on March 28, 2007 and the national side was due to play in Athens on November 17, 2007.
The world soccer's governing body warned the Greek government at its Congress in Morocco last September that it would be suspended from membership unless the autonomy of the HFF was respected.
In a statement on Monday FIFA says "In September 2005, the FIFA Executive Committee gave the HFF a deadline of 15 July 2006 to obtain from the Greek government an amendment to the national law on sports in order to enable the association to be in conformity with the FIFA Statutes and the relevant UEFA regulations.
"In spite of repeated warnings from both FIFA and UEFA, the commitment expressed by Greek government representatives to amend the law on sport to irrevocably recognise that football matters can only be decided by the HFF and its subordinated football structures has not been respected. In fact, the recently-presented draft of a new law on professional leagues constitutes another example of interference from the government in football affairs. Therefore, the FIFA Emergency Committee has determined that the deadline would not be met by the HFF and that the suspension of this federation was necessary.
"This decision means that the HFF and all of its members (clubs, players, officials) are suspended with immediate effect and until further notice from all international contact, which also includes participation in international competitions at all levels, the organisation of international matches in Greece and the appointment of officials for international duties."
Greece were due to open the new season with a friendly international against England on August 12 and start their qualifying campaign for the Euro 2008 championship on September 2 away to Moldova.
- The two teams which will be facing Hibernians and Sliema Wanderers in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup have been strengthened with the signing of new players.
Hibs will be facing FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti with the first leg being played at Ta' Qali while Sliema take on AFC Rapid Bucuresti, the first leg being played away from home. The two legs will be played on July 13 and 27.
Dinamo have signed 32-year-old Romania forward Ioan Viorel Ganea to aid their UEFA Cup challenge. Ganea, capped 44 times by his country with 19 goals, had spent the past two-and-a-half years in England with Wolves, having previously played in Turkey with Bursaspor and in Germany for VfB Stuttgart. He has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further 12 months.
Dinamo have also signed Ghanaian right-back George Blay and left-back Cosmin Pascovici on three and four-year contracts respectively. Twenty-five year old Blay, last played for RAA Louvièroise in Belgium while 28-year old Pascovici joins the club from Farul Constanta.
Meanwhile Rapid Bucharest secured the services of Australian forward Ryan Griffiths and Romanian Under-21 international central defender Cristian Sapunaru for 2.5 million euro from city rivals National Bucharest.
The 25-year-old Griffiths, who was not part of Australia's FIFA World Cup squad, signed a three-year deal. Sapunaru, 22, has committed himself until 2010 and will hope to feature in the UEFA Cup next term.
Ten days ago, Rapid received a major boost as coach Razvan Lucescu has reversed his decision to leave Rapid to take charge of Politehnica Timisoara. He changed his mind just four days after agreeing to join Politehnica after players and supporters begged him to stay with the club.
Lucescu, son of former Brecia, Inter, Galtasaray and Besiktas coach Mircea Lucescu, has been coaching Rapid for the past two years.
- Maltese clubs will be receiving higher payments for taking part in UEFA competitions as the European football body has increased its solidarity payments to European football with clubs involved in the qualifying phases of the coming season's UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup, as well as the UEFA Intertoto Cup first round.
The new solidarity distribution system, approved by the UEFA Executive Committee, will see each domestic champion club which fails to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage receive a bonus of €160,000; the equivalent figure in 2005/06 was approximately €95,800. In addition, clubs which take part in the UEFA Champions League first and/or second qualifying round will receive €100,000 per round, provided they do not qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage. That figure compares with approximately €51,100 last season.
Each club involved in the UEFA Cup first and second qualifying rounds, as well as the first round, will receive a contribution of €70,000 - compared to approximately €51,800 last season - per round even if they qualify for the UEFA Cup group stage.
Meanwhile clubs involved in the first, second and third rounds of the UEFA Intertoto Cup will receive a contribution of €50,000 per round; in 2005/06 that figure was around €31,900.
This means that Birkirkara will receive a sum of around Lm 111,600 for taking part in the first qualifying round with the possibility of receiving anotber Lm 43,000 if they qualify for the next round.
Hibernians and Sliema Wanderers will be recieving the sum of Lm 30,000 for taking part in the UEFA Cup while Marsaxlokk will receive Lm 21,500.
- Msida SJ skipper Charles Sciberras has agreed to extend his contract with the club by another year for the upcoming season after his previous contract expired last season.
Sciberras will also be involved in the technical sector of the club under the guidance of new coach Mr. Patrick Curmi, as this will help the player to gain new experience in coaching before ending his football playing career.
The technical staff together with the management board and the committee of Msida SJ will be addressing a player's meeting on Monday at 19:30 and on Tuesday, the players will start the pre-season training for the 2006/07 season.
Presently there is great enthusiasm and a good atmosphere at the club while this upcoming season is the most memorable one on the occasion of the 100 years anniversary of the club.
- Fgura United Football Club would like to announce that during the annual general meeting held at the club's premises a new committee was elected as follows:
Mr. Lawrence Bugeja has been elected as the new Club President, while Mr. John Pavia has been elected as Vice-President of the club. The position of the club's secretary was held again by Mr. Stefan Vella as this was uncontested and he will be assisted by Mr. Brian Calvagna who has been elected as Assistant Secretary. Mr. Robert Tabone has been elected as the club's treasurer who will be assisted by Mr. Ruben Fava who has been elected as assistant treasurer. Mr. Kenneth Bonnici has been elected as PRO and webmaster of the club. Mr. Noel Spearing, Mr. Carlo Spearing and Mr. Raffaeale Castrogiovanni have been elected as members of this committee.
In the meantime, Fgura United Football Club would like to announce that Mr. George Faure' was appointed as the new coach for the season 2006/2007.