Aphrodite Cup Cyprus – The Cypriot tour for Malta Women’s National Team ahead of the UEFA Euro Qualifiers of next April
The Maltese Women’s National Team will be participating in the Aphrodite Cup which will be held in Cyprus, just days after the Cypriot Football Association will have finished its commitments in the Cyprus Cup which they also hosted.
Malta was drawn in Group B and will be facing the hosts, Cyprus, Azerbaijan (who replaced Qatar few days after the draws) and the Asian team of Bahrain in the space of 4 days; from the 12th till the 15th of March. Afterwards, their adventure in Cyprus will proceed according to their classification in their respective group. They will also have 3 training sessions during their camp in 3 different localities, Pafiako; Geroskipou and Pegeia.
Ahead of his first international tournament as the Senior’s team coach, Mark Gatt expressed his thoughts about the challenge that his girls will face in Cyprus. ‘’My main objective is to get this girls working and interpreting my tactical system well in order to reach their maximum potentials on the pitch and get the experience players gel with the younger ones, which would result as the key factor in this team as we have a mixture of experienced and young girls. Moreover, this tournament is a very fundamental preparation ahead of next month’s crucial fixtures in the UEFA Euro Qualifiers. Our aim is to reach our peak until those matches and that is why I keep emphasizing on the importance of this tournament’’.
This won’t be the only ‘debut’ though in the Maltese team, as the highly-experienced midfielder who currently plays with Hibernians FC, Dorianne Theuma, will be wearing the captain’s armband for the first time as the official team captain. Theuma, who in total played in 14 UEFA matches for her country, is very eager to get started in this tournament as she is seeing a bright future for female football in Malta. ‘’I feel lucky that we will be taking part in the Aphrodite Cup. This is our first experience in such a cup and I am very eager to play on foreign soil and especially in meeting a non-EU side like Bahrain. Moreover, it will be very helpful in our preparation ahead of next month’s UEFA Euro qualifiers. Naturally, I am also looking forward to lead the girls as a captain, not because I feel superior than them but because it will help me to keep my feet on the ground and lead by example the younger ones. I think captaining the national team is the cherry on the cake for my career and I would like to thank all coaches for believing in me and rewarding me with this opportunity. We have a very young squad but I think that’s an advantage for them as they are the ambassadors for the next generation in female football in Malta’’.
Mark Gatt has chosen the following 18 players for this tournament:
Rachelle Lynn Borg (Mgarr)
Janice Xuereb (Birkirkara)
Rosalie Cauchi (Hibernians)
Stephania Farrugia (Birkirkara)
Yasmeen Marie Vella (Birkirkara)
Gabriella Zahra (Birkirkara)
Charlene Zammit (Hibernians)
Shona Zammit (Hibernians)
Brenda Borg (Mgarr)
Ylenia Ann Carabott (Hibernians)
Rachel Cuschieri (Apollon Ladies)
Mandy Debono (Hibernians)
Jade Flask (Kirkop)
Dorianne Theuma (Hibernians)
Emma Xuereb (Luxol)
Claudette Xuereb (Hibernians)
Kelly Grace Agius (Birkirkara)
Martina Borg (Hibernians)
The rest countries in Group B:
– Head-coach: Andros Vasileiou.
– FIFA Ranking: 110
– Head-coach: Patricia Gonzalez
– FIFA Ranking: 133.
– Headcoach: Manter Hantash.
– FIFA Ranking: 81.
Sports journalist from Malta with a great passion towards women’s football. My interest towards women’s football commenced during the 2007 FIFA World Cup and from then on I started to catch up with all international tournaments that used to be broadcasted. My involvement in local women’s football started few years ago by attending all national team’s matches and sometimes used to attend some of the domestic league’s matches. I hope that my articles with WSU help our local league to build an important reputation among other nations and expose our girls in this movement.