Ray ‘Zazu’ Farrugia named Malta coach after Saintfiet sacking

New Malta coach is Ray ‘Zazu’ Farrugia who is already part of the MFA’s technical staff

Ray Farrugia
Ray Farrugia

The Malta Football Association has appointed Ray ‘Zazu’ Farrugia as national team coach.

His appointment as Malta coach was discussed and approved unanimously during a meeting of the Malta FA Executive Committee, held Wednesday evening.

He takes over from Tom Saintfiet who was relieved of his duties as national team coach on April 25.

Farrugia, 62, also served as assistant under several coaches, including Josif Ilic and Pietro Ghedin.

“In the circumstances, we felt that we should hand the reins of the national team to a Maltese coach who is already part of our technical sector, has a sound knowledge of Maltese football as well as the experience to prepare and lead the team in international matches,” Norman Darmanin Demajo, the Malta FA President, said.

“The stability of our national team is our top priority and to this end, we are confident that Ray Farrugia has the ability and experience to fulfil this role in the best possible manner.”

Farrugia will take charge of the men’s senior team with immediate effect. His first task is to prepare the squad the upcoming commitments, including the training camp in Austria and the friendly matches in the May-June period.

Farrugia, who has also had two spells as Malta Under-21 coach, steps up from his role as national team assistant coach, a position he has held since 2014.

Former Malta national team coach Tom Santfiet
Former Malta national team coach Tom Santfiet

Tom Saintfiet, who was appointed last October, was fired by the Malta Football Association after reports that he responded to a call made by the Cameroonian Football Federation.

In comments to MaltaToday, Saintfied stressed he had “never applied for the job in Cameroon, or any other job, and I never authorised or gave a mandate to anyone to apply such a job. It is totally incorrect".

Asked why he had removed a Facebook post which he had put up earlier today, where he had denied applying for the Cameroon post, Saintfiet said that the only reason he had deleted it was due to pejorative comments he had received.

“I had applied for the Cameroon job in 2012, 2014 and 2015, but this year I am very happy to be in Malta with my family and have a long-term commitment. I have no reason to apply anywhere else, and I never sent any application,” he underlined, adding that his name might have cropped up because someone else - such as an agent - could have applied in his name, with him not having a clue this had happened.

“There are agents who do it without informing the coaches,” he said, “It is very easy to make a CV and send an email - there is no difficulty to apply for someone else, but I have not applied for the job in this moment in time. There are other coaches in my situation - [former France international manager] Raymond Domenech already announced that he also did not apply and has no interest in the job.”