The Malta Independent 19 April 2019, Friday

Frendo and Grima delighted with first Malta U-21 call-up

MFA Communications Office Thursday, 21 March 2019, 11:20 Last update: about 29 days ago
Photo: MFA
Photo: MFA

The training camp is underway in Antalya, Turkey, for the Malta U-21 team, a week of intensive preparation that includes two friendly matches ahead of a tough competition coming up, starting in September with away fixtures against Northern Ireland and Ukraine.

Coach Silvio Vella has called up a new-look squad with several uncapped players all vying to prove themselves in this first experience at Under-21 level. 

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Two of these newcomers are Neil Frendo and Marcus Grima who are both striving to raise their standards, having recently started a new domestic experience outside Maltese shores. 

Neil Frendo, who is playing his football with OFK Belgrade, spoke about how playing in Serbia could be pivotal in his development. 

“I’m so delighted that I have been selected by coach Silvio (Vella)," Frendo said.

"My exprience in Serbia has gone really well so far. It's hard being away from home but I believe I could reap the benefits of this spell later in my career.

“I believe that, for most of us, this training camp in Turkey is very fruitful, and the friendlies coming up against Turkmenistan and Kosovo could give us a better indication of our progress and preparation leading to the new competition later this year." 

Marcus Grima is another foreign-based who only recently joined English Championship outfit Barnsley. 

“My Barnsley experience has been really positive so far, I've settled in really well," Grima, a product of St Andrews FC, said.

"My physical condition has improved a lot, training is very different, more intense off the ball and a lot of running.

“The U-21 call-up has come as a big surprise as I’m still young. I'm grateful to coach Silvio Vella and the rest of the technical staff for showing faith in me.

“I integrated well with this group of players and together we can keep learning, gaining more experience and raising our standards prior to this tough competition coming up.

“We all know that at this U21 level, players become sharper and ready for the senior team, that's our ultimate aim. We want to emulate other players who have gained experience here and are now enjoying their time and earning caps at senior level.”

 

BORG NAMED CAPTAiN

Meanwhile, Valletta defender Jean Borg will captain the Malta U-21 team in the Turkmenistan friendly on Friday at 15.00hrs (Malta time) followed with the Kosovo friendly on Tuesday in Antalya same time.

He will take on the captain’s armband from Matthew Guillaumier who is one of many players promoted to represent Malta at senior level for the upcoming Euro 2020 Group F qualifiers against Faroe Islands and Spain.

 

MALTA UNDER-121 SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS

Timothy Aquilina (Sliema Wanderers), Andreas Vella (Mosta). 

DEFENDERS

Jean Borg (Valletta), Kurt Shaw (Sliema Wanderers), Connor Zammit (Hibernians), Zachary Cassar (Senglea Athletic), Michele Sansone (Sliema Wanderers), Nicholas Pulis (Valletta), Zachary Karl Grech (Pembroke Athleta).

MIDFIELDERS

Myles Beerman (Gżira Utd), Gary Camilleri (Senglea Athletic), Neil Frendo (OFK Beograd), Marcus Grima (Barnsley), Russell Fenech (Sirens), David Xuereb (Hibernians), Aidan Jake Friggieri (St Andrews), Jan Busuttil (Pietà Hotspurs), Jan Tanti (San Ġwann). 

FORWARDS

Zachary Brincat (Mosta), Paul Mbong (Birkirkara).

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