Malta Football Association
NEWS:
Birkirkara coach Zammit wary of Klaksvik’s match fitness
Jun 13, 2018
Posted in:
General
BOV Premier League
The Europa League trophy displayed during Tuesday's draw.
The Europa League trophy displayed during Tuesday's draw.

Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit is approaching the Europa League matches against KÍ Klaksvík, of the Faroe Islands, with cautious optimism.
 


The Stripes, who qualified for the Europa League on the back of their fourth-place finish in the 2017-18 BOV Premier League, will be looking to make home advantage count in the first leg on Thursday, 28th June before travelling to the Faroe Islands for the return match a week later.

 

Zammit admitted that facing a team who have already played several domestic games is a challenge for Birkirkara.

 

“We knew the teams we could be drawn against,” Zammit told www.mfa.com.mt.

 

“Going to the Faroe Islands is never easy, especially since our opponents have already played 13 games in their domestic league. They are in second place and will play two more league games before coming to Malta in two weeks’ time.

 

“We have intensified our training over the past few days. The warm weather makes things more difficult at this time of the year but we knew that we will be facing one of our most important matches in the close season.”

 

NEW SIGNINGS

 

Birkirkara have strengthened their squad ahead of their Europa League campaign, making two key signings in Malta midfielder Paul Fenech, who has returned to the club after a two-year spell with Balzan, and experienced forward Michael Mifsud, the national team’s all-time leading scorer who joined the Stripes following the end of his contract with Valletta.

 

Midfielder Terence Agius has also signed for Birkirkara on a permanent basis after initially joining the club on loan from Balzan last season.

 

“The new signings are doing well, the expectations are that the team will improve with Paul and Michael in the fold but we are also looking at our new foreigners who are settling well. We hope the team will benefit from their contribution,” the Birkirkara coach added.

 

Macedonian goalkeeper Kristijan Naumovski and Croatian midfielder Mislav Andelkovic have been confirmed from last season. They have been joined by midfielders Marcelinho and defender Eduardo Dos Santos, both from Brazil, and Nigerian winger Uchenna Calistus who had a two-year stint with Valletta.

 

Zammit announced that Birkirkara’s home game against KÍ Klaksvík on Thursday, June 28th at the Centenary Stadium, will start at 7 p.m.

 

The Stripes will be seeking to replicate their positive campaigns in the Europa League in recent years. In 2016, Birkirkara reached the third qualifying round after eliminating Scottish side Hearts 2-1 on aggregate in the second round.

 

The season before, a Fabrizio Miccoli goal had given Birkirkara a 1-0 win against English Premier League side West Ham United in the return leg of their Europa League second qualifying round tie at the National Stadium. The Hammers eventually progressed on penalties.

 

BALANCED ENCOUNTER


The other Maltese team in the preliminary round of the Europa League are Gżira United who have been drawn against Sant Julià, of Andorra.
 

Gżira United coach Darren Abdilla, who was present for Tuesday’s draw in Nyon, expects a balanced encounter but is very positive about his side’s chances of reaching the next round.

 

“It will be balanced but I must say that I’m optimistic as historically, we are aware that Maltese sides always had positive results against clubs from Andorra,” Abdilla said.

 

The Maroons coach confirmed that the first leg of this preliminary round tie, in Andorra, has been brought forward to Tuesday 26th June with kick off time set for 8pm.

 

For Gżira, this is their first European experience in 45 years.

 

“Logistically, everything is in place,” Abdilla said. “We will be flying to Barcelona followed by a three-hour drive to Andorra two days prior to the match.”

 

Abdilla has been gathering a lot of information about Sant Julià.

 

“They are a valid team... last season they finished third in their domestic league,” he said.

 

“Sant Julià have a team with a good mix of Spanish and Portuguese players but we believe in our ability and hopefully we can qualify from this round.

 

“From our side, all players in the squad are doing well. We are looking forward to this double header, the new players have integrated well with striker Jorginho starting to train with the ball after recovering from a cartilage operation.”

 

Apart from Brazilian forward Jorginho, Gżira have signed experienced Brazilian defender Rodolfo Soares, also formerly of Hibernians, and Italian wing-back Tomas Veronese who left a very positive impression with Mosta FC last season.


 

Official Sponsors
Commercial Partners