The Maltese rugby team will be determined to make amends for the upset in Croatia in their last match with a strong showing against Czech Republic at the Hibs Stadium today.

Last weekend, Malta opened their season commitments with a 34-27 defeat in Split that left the national team one place off the bottom with 10 points.

The Czechs, who beat Malta 27-13 at home last year, will be looking to repeat that result here and regain top spot in the group, making it more difficult for Damien Neill’s men.

Malta captain Domenic Busuttil said the Czech Republic start favourites but he and his team-mates will be firing on all cylinders to surprise their more-quoted opponents.

“We are coming from a very frustrating performance against Croatia. The coach was right... had we been more careful we could have easily avoided defeat in Split,” Busuttil admitted.

“Now we have a very difficult match against the Czech Republic but the mood in our camp is still upbeat as we want to get back on track in the group.

“Everyone keeps saying how strong the Czechs are but at home we have a very decent record and that makes us feel more confident that we can win this match.”

Neill will be without two key players today – James O’Brien and James Morris. Their absence has led the national coach to introduce a few promising players into the squad.

Busuttil, who has been skippering the national team for the past six years, said he has seen enough from the newcomers in the squad to make him realise they can play a major part in the future of the national team.

“I was impressed with the talent of Aaron Borg, Samuel Zammit and Matthew Spiteri. They de-serve to be in the squad. As captain I’m always ready to help them and during matches we make sure that they stay focused all the time,” Busuttil, who plays for Barry AFC in Wales, said.

“This is an exciting crop of young players coming through.

“They possess great talent and can all give their contribution to see that the high levels we’ve reached lately are maintained.”

The squad
D. Holliday, H. Collins, T. Galdes, D. Deguara, C. Cassar, D. Apsee, M. Davey, L. Watts, R. Holloway, T. Holloway, M. Camilleri, D. Busuttil, T. Quarendon, V. Stivala, J. Kirk, S. Zammit, J. Ellul, M. Spiteri, C. Briffa, J. Galea, B. Borg, M. Cordle, L. Matthews, A. Borg, A. Harvey, L. Galea.

Switzerland (5-0-1) 23; Czech Re-public (3-1-1) 18; Croatia (3-0-3) 17; Malta (2-0-3) 10; Israel (0-1-5) 4.


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