The Malta FA yesterday moved a step closer to finalising the appointment of Pietro Ghedin as national coach following fruitful talks between Bjorn Vassallo, the MFA CEO, and Giancarlo Abete and Sergio Di Cesare, president and head of the international depar­tment at the FIGC respectively.

At the last council meeting, MFA president Norman Darmanin Demajo confirmed Ghedin’s status as the top candidate for the Malta job after his nomination was approved by the members of the association’s Executive Committee.

Darmanin Demajo also announced that the MFA planned to discuss their interest in Ghedin with the FIGC as the experienced coach, who has already had a spell at the helm of the national team back in the nineties, is currently in charge of the Italian women’s side.

The Malta FA head instructed Vassallo, his trusted right-hand man, to spearhead negotiations with Ghedin and the FIGC.

Contacted by The Times, Vassallo declared himself satisfied with the outcome of his meeting with the FIGC officials in Rome.

“First and foremost, the meeting with Giancarlo Abete and Sergio Di Cesare was very cordial,” Vassallo said.

“We discussed many things, especially the bilateral co-operation between the two associations on coaching education. Over the past few years, a number of Maltese coaches have benefited from our excellent ties with the FIGC by doing the Pro Licence course in Coverciano.

“At present, Stephen Grima, the head of coaching education within the MFA technical centre, is taking the Pro course in Italy. It’s our intention to maintain this co-operation with the FIGC by sending one Maltese coach to follow the Pro coaching course at Coverciano on a yearly basis.

“The FIGC have also pledged to keep assisting our association by sending their technical people to conduct coaching clinics and seminars for our coaches.”

Vassallo also reported significant progress in the MFA’s efforts to tie up the loose ends over Ghedin’s appointment as national coach.

“I presented the MFA’s proposed package to Ghedin and his first reaction was quite positive,” Vassallo said. “Obviously, we need to wait for his official reply and we will then look into the matter in detail during the next meeting of the Executive Committee.

“Ghedin seems very enthusiastic about the job as he is keen on a new challenge after seven years as coach of the Italian women’s team.

“With regards to the FIGC, they essentially indicated that, if everything goes to plan in Italy’s next two women’s European Championship qualifiers against Bosnia (March 31) and Russia (April 4), we should be in a position to officialise Ghedin’s appointment as Malta coach in April-May.

“Our target is for Ghedin to take over before the friendly against Luxembourg on June 2. In the meantime, the FIGC have given Ghedin the go-ahead to spend time in Malta in the next two months to assess Maltese players during domestic games.”

The MFA are expected to offer Ghedin a three-and-a-half-year contract, taking in the next two qualifying competitions for the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.

Last week, Malta launched their build-up for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers with a 2-1 win over Liechtenstein. MFA technical director Robert Gatt was in charge of the national team for last week’s friendly on an interim basis.

Malta have been drawn in World Cup qualifying Group B together with Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Armenia.

The curtain-raiser for Malta will be a home qualifier against Armenia on September 7 followed by the daunting away assignment against Italy four days later.

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