Month: April 2016

Sliema Wanderers end up successfully

Sliema Wanderers recorded the first title in the playoffs stage, as they were yesterday crowned First Division Champions. In the First Division Playoffs Final, despite every effort done by Sirens to get into advantage, Sliema proved to be the best side.
Following a Sirens’ defensive mistake, the Wanderers opened the score through Christian Micallef. A few minutes later, Eslam Khalifa doubled the advantage, by another score for Sliema. Eight minutes towards the end of the first half, Sirens’ Leonard Zammit reduced the arrears, while Darren Agius responded and made it 3-1 for Sliema. In the dying minutes of the first half, Andy Portelli scored Sirens’ second goal.
The second half of the game saw a more organised Wanderers team who offered minimal chances to its opponents. After four minutes Dexter O’Brien scored Sliema’s fourth goal. This was followed by Aleksander Ribic who put the ball at the back of the net in the middle of the second half. Antoine Galea managed to score the third and last goal for Sirens, in the 14th minute. Five minutes to the final whistle, George Chircop was sent off after receving the second yellow card. It was from this moment that Sirens played with Ryan Gilmour Cassar as flying keeper, but they had to give up and leave Sliema dominating the last three minutes, with Eslam Khalifa scoring twice more, sealing the end result of 7-3 for Sliema Wandereres.
After the match, Futsal Malta Association’s President Mark Borg together with the Vice President Alfred Camilleri, presented the medals to both teams. Finally came Sliema’s captain Jurgen Mifsud to raise the cup among the Wanderers’ celebrations.

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Hamrun, Valletta cross swords in decisive encounters

The surprising duo of the Gatorade Elite Round, Valletta and Hamrun Spartans, will be engaged in a nailbiting duel for the title as they play the first game in the best-of-three play-offs final series this evening (kick-off 20.00).
These three important clashes are expected to be a real title show-down for all the Maltese futsal followers.
Hamrun, who won 16 out of 18 matches, boast the best attack with lethal strikers Raphinha and Michel Melo Jose in fine form as they netted the majority of the Spartans’ goals.
They enjoyed a comfortable passage to the final after beating Lija Athletic 12-6 on aggregate.
Valletta are the surprise package of the campaign. They placed third in the standings winning 13 of their 18 matches played.
The Lilywhites produced a stunning semifinal second leg performance as they managed to knock out defending champions Luxol 9-7 on aggregate.
Valletta hope that their strikers Jovica Milijic, Xavier Saliba, Dylan Musu and Mohammed Elamari will be keen to persist with their scoring spree against Hamrun to win the title for the first time in their history.
Both teams have met each other twice during this season as they shared the spoils in an entertaining 4-4 scoreline in the first round. However, in the second round, Hamrun produced a commanding display to see off the Citizens 7-2.
The match between Valletta and Hamrun will be played on a best-out-of-three match format. Each game played should have a clear winner. If a game ends on a draw after playing the normal time, penalties will be taken immediately after, to determine the winner of the game. If the same team wins the first two games successively, that team is proclaimed champion and the third game is not played.

Sliema, Sirens to figure out in the Gatorade First Division play-off final

Sliema and Sirens have their eyes set on wresting the Gatorade First Division Cup as they face each other tonight in the final at the Corradino Pavillion.
Both teams broke little sweat in setting up this season’s title showdown as the St Paul’s Bay outfit breezed past Zebbug Rangers 6-2 in the semi-final while the Wanderers had the better of Mqabba 6-4.
There is balance also in direct clashes this season with Sirens seeing off Sliema 2-1 in the first round with the latter taking sweet revenge in the second round by winning 7-2.
Despite enjoying a positive second round, Sliema’s mentor, Paul Carabott is wary about tonight difficult task ahead.
“It’s going to be a very tough game against a team who is motivated to do well.”
Carabott admires the tactical discipline that Sirens always adopt during their matches.
“Sirens are a very disciplined squad. Their coach is well-prepared and has a lot of experience in these play-off stages.”
The Wanderers’ coach is happy with his players as they always give their hundred per cent on the court.
“The unity of the squad has helped Sliema reach these important targets,” concluded Carabott.
The Blues hope that their experienced players, Aleksandar Ribic, Paul Bugeja and Eslam Khalifa will be in their tip-top form to help them clinch the title.
On the other hand, Sirens’ coach, Keith Borg, is focused on this big event.
“Our teams is well-prepared both mentally and physically. We are looking forward for this match.”
“We have made a great achievement and for most of our players, this is their first final ever.”
Borg admits that they didn’t believe that Sirens would participate in this final.
“When we started the second round, we knew that all First Division teams were well-equipped. Despite all this we persevered and now we are in the final.”
Asked about his opponents, Borg is cautious.
“We know that Sliema have a lot of experienced players and good quality foreigners. Therefore we respect our opponents and hope that it will be a great game.”
Sirens believe in the form of their striker Ryan Gilmour Cassar who scored a record 22 goals since joining the St Paul’s Bay outfit in January.
Tonight’s match kicks off at 20.30 hrs.

First Referee Exchange Programme for Maltese Futsal Official

Following the regular football referees’ exchange programmes with a number of European Associations and Federations in recent years, the Malta FA Refereeing Department is pleased to announce the first such initiative in FUTSAL.

An agreement to this effect has been reached with San Marino Football Federation, which materialised last Thursday 21st April, when San Marino referees Daniele D’Adamo and Massimo Nanni, together with our referees, controlled the two First Division play-off matches Sliema Wanderers vs Mqabba (Referee 1 Robert Darmanin / Referee 2 Daniele D’Adamo) and Sirens vs Żebbug Rangers (Referee 1 Jonathan Mallia / Referee 2 Massimo Nanni); in both matches Ms. Joanna Vassallo was timekeeper.

In San Marino next Wednesday 27th April, it will be the turn of our referees Clinton Mario Cassar (newly-appointed FIFA Futsal Referee) and Jonathan Mallia, to officiate the two First Division play-off matches San Giovanni vs Fiorentino (Referee 1 Jonathan Mallia / Referee 2 Marco Pagani) and Murata vs Tre Fiori (Referee 1 Clinton Mario Cassar / Referee 2 Giovanni Notarpietro).

The officials will be acompanied by Adrian Caruana who will be referee observer of both matches.

This is the third referee exchange this month, another opportunity for our match officials to gain invaluable international experience abroad – which is a first for both referees Clinton Mario Cassar and Jonathan Mallia.

Five goal Spartans pave the way to Elite final

Hamrun broke little sweat in overcoming the feeble challenge of Lija Athletic 5-1 to qualify for next Friday’s final against Valletta.
There was never any doubt about the legitimacy of Hamrun’s victory as the Spartans were a cut above their opponents.
On their part, Lija were a shadow of last week’s performance against the same opponents, when despite losing 7-5 they produced a bold reaction.
But that was never going to be in the second leg as Hamrun all but settled the match inside the opening 20 minutes with a double advantage before the break, administer the proceeding in the second half and add more goals.
As expected, Lija made all the early running but they rarely threatened the Hamrun goal.
Instead, it was the Spartans who took the lead on 10 minutes when Brazilian Madson Caetano received a precise kick in by compatriot Michel Melo to blast at the top corner of the net and make it 1-0.
Three minutes later, Hamrun doubled the lead when a delicious lob by Andy Mangion finished at the back of the net.
Lija tried to make a reaction as Brian Baldacchino saved a good shot by Endrit Kaca.
After a 2-0 advantage before the interval, Hamrun struck again on 23 minutes when Raphinha’s pass was met by Peter Pullicino who directed his shot into the net.
Lija tried to regroup and managed to reduce the gap when Nicola del Re, who was acting as a flying keeper, found the net after a fierce shot.
Despite this goal, the pattern of the game stayed the same with Hamrun bossing proceedings.
Poor defensive play from the Athletics handed a lifeline to league top scorer Raphael Ortiz de Oliveira who scored a quickfire brace as he stole possession on the edge of the area and hit the target twice to make a final 5-1 scoreline.
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Luxol knocked out of the Elite final four by Valletta

(agg. 9-7)

Holders Luxol St Andrews crashed out of the Gatorade Elite play-offs after being stifled by a brilliantly well-organised Valletta side and undone by a 4-1 semi-final, second leg defeat.

The slogan that hung at the stands of the Corradino Pavillion read “Nothing is Impossible” and Valletta always believed in this motto, even when they might have feared it would be taken from them in the final minute.

Few know how to suffer like they do but few know how to make opponents suffer like they do either. The pressure built and the numerous Valletta supporters encouraging their team, made this match a really intense one.

As for Luxol, their belief in a second consecutive championship was extinguished here. Here, too, it was tense and there were nerves until the very end but ultimately Valletta deserved their victory, seeking it from the start. Luxol did not. After controlling their opponents with a great tactical discipline in the first half, the Citizens ventured forward and broke the deadlock on the half hour.

On their part, the St Andrews side, had an immense majority of the ball but they moved it slowly and from deep and Saliba’s opener rendered the tactic redundant.

The first half was a cagey affair with both rearguards having control of their respective attackers as a stalemate prevailed before the break.

Valletta broke the deadlock on 32 minutes when Xavier Saliba, well served by Elamari netted the first goal from close range.

One minute later, the Citizens’ captain headed home a Milijic exquisite cross to give a deserved 2-0 lead.

Luxol were stunned and the Lilywhites took advantage as they netted their third goal when Melvin Borg, well-served by Cuadros Silva slotted into the net.

Luxol tried to grow into the game, but struggled to create clear chances. Their two best opportunities fell to Frane Despotovic, the scorer of four goals in their 6-5 win in the first leg, but the Croatian could only shoot straight at Neil Cuschieri, the Valletta’s keeper.

In the following attempt, Luxol’s player-coach was unlucky as the woodwork denied the joy of goal.

Glenn Bonello reduced the arrears a few minutes later to produce an intense finale.

Despotovic opted for the flying keeper to instill more pressure on Valletta’s defence but in doing so they exposed their net with Jovica Milijic taking advantage to fire home and rubberstamp his team’s qualification.

Clayton Felice’s men comfortably contained their uncharacteristically limp opponents and their 9-7 aggregate victory eliminated the St Andrews side at the semi-final.
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Sliema, Sirens book place in final

Sliema and Sirens booked a place in the Gatorade First Division play-off final after ousting their respective opponents, Mqabba and Zebbug, in the semifinals played yesterday at the Corradino Pavillion.
The Wanderers keeper, Brandon Debono was the toast of Sliema as the young custodian performed a string of formidable saves to repel most of Mqabba’s attacks successfully.
At the beginning, congested midfield play did not help either team’s cause of making it to the final.
But when Sliema broke the deadlock, they ventured forward in search of more goals as they installed a 4-1 advantage before the break.
In the second half, Mqabba played better and managed to score three more goals to instill more pressure on the Wanderers defensive department.
Sliema scored two more goals in the process to clinch a hard-earned final next Thursday.
Eslam Khalifa and Aleksandar Ribic inspired Sliema as they netted a brace while Paul Bugeja was also on the mark.
Mqabba’s goals came from a brace by Matthew Buttigieg, Ryan Mifsud and Darren Aitchinson.


Sirens also clinched a place in the final as they saw off Zebbug 6-2.
The St Paul’s Bay outfit made amends of their league loss against the same opponents last week as they stunned the Rangers with some fierce attacks.
Ryan Gilmour Cassar and George Chircop hit the target twice for Sirens as Jonathan Debono and Antoine Galea added their tally.
Spanish duo Inigo Dolara and Anton Novoa Perez put their names on the score sheet for Zebbug who have officially ended their commitments for this season.

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Four teams battle for place in final

The final line-up of this season’s Gatorade Elite play-offs will be finalised tonight when the two second leg semifinals will be played at the Corradino Pavillion.
Hamrun and Luxol will be looking to maintain their slender advantage obtained in the first leg when they face Lija and Valletta respectively.
On paper, the most enticing tie should be that between Luxol and Valletta as both teams are determined to make progress in these play-offs.
Besides the already said first leg encounter that finished 6-5 for the St Andrews outfit, both teams faced each other three times this season.
In the Super Cup, Luxol defeated Valletta 9-5 while in the league encounters, the Lilywhites humiliated the Champions 7-1 only to lose the Elite Round fixture 4-1.
From what we have seen last week, it will be another intense match which can be decided even at the last gasp of the match.
Valletta, will rely on the form of Slovenian international Dejan Bizjak and some of their experienced players Xavier Saliba, Jovica Milijic and Dylan Musu.
Luxol will be all out to preserve the advantage and hope that their player-coach Frane Despotovic will keep his inspirational form after netting a poker in the first leg.
Meanwhile, Lija have good reason to be upbeat about their chances of advancing to the final after last week’s good performance against Hamrun.
Although they start with a 7-5 advantage, the Spartans are unlikely to underestimate Lija who were a hard nut to crack in their first leg encounter.
Last week, Hamrun missed a lot of golden opportunities in front of goal especially as they failed to capitalize four shots from the second penalty spot.
The Spartans hope that their Brazilian players will make the difference as happened last week when Madson and Raphinha netted a brace.
In these double headers, the team with the best aggregate result will qualify for the final. If at the end of the second leg, the match ends in a draw, extra-time will be played following which penalties will decide the winner of the contest.
Play-off semifinals fixtures:
20.00 hrs – Valletta vs Luxol
22.00 hrs – Lija vs Hamrun

Four teams bid to keep their championship dream alive

The quest for championship glory resumes tonight when four teams will be bidding to reach the final of this season’s Gatorade First Division play-off.
In the first match leaders Sliema meet fourth placed Mqabba (kick-off 19.45) while Zebbug Rangers will be looking to produce another good performance as they take on Sirens (kick-off 21.30).
On paper, the most enticing tie should be that between Sirens and Zebbug as both teams are determined to make progress in this competition and clinch a place in the final.
The two teams are very balanced with Sirens sitting one place above Zebbug in the standings. However, the latter have a perfect record against the St Paul’s Bay outfit this season after winning both league encounters 5-3 and 3-1.
Therefore the Rangers will fancy their chances of progressing to the final as they rely on their Spanish trio, Inigo Dolara, Anton Novoa Perez and Alejandro Rubia Morenas.
On the part, Sirens have endured a positive spell in the Gatorade First Division as they hope that their main striker, Ryan Gilmour Cassar find his goal scoring spree.
Sliema Wanderers, who are unbeaten in the second phase of the championship, face Mqabba in the other semi-final.
The Blues are favourites to book their place in the final but Mqabba come into this match on a high after winning their last league encounter to ensure a place in the play-offs.
Sliema have also had a tranquil build-up to the game after their 12-6 win over Gozo last week.
Sliema’s coach Paul Carabott cannot field Josh Parry as he played his last match in Malta last week. But the Wanderers’ mentor can rely on some experienced players that can make a difference such as Aleksandar Ribic and Paul Bugeja.
Meanwhile, Mqabba hope to make the biggest upset in this competition as they try to get into the final.
Kevin Loughborough’s boys have been an inconsistent lot, having prevailed against some more quoted opponents but losing ground in some manageable encounters.
In their previous matches earlier this season, Sliema have seen off Mqabba 11-5 and 5-3.
In these semifinals, if the matches ends in a draw, extra-time will be played following which penalties will decide the winner of the contest

A Closer Look at…Brandon Debono (Sliema Wanderers Futsal Club)

Name: Brandon Debono.
Born on July 30th 1994.
Place of Birth: Mqabba.
Works as a Deliveryman.
Favourite Group: U2
Favourite Dish: Spaghetti.
Personal Motto: Never give up and keep working hard.

How long have you been involved in this sport?
I have been practising this sport for the past four months.

How difficult is the role of the goalkeeper in futsal?
Actually the goalkeeper has to be always concentrated during all the match as he is involved continuously in a lot of saves. Statistically half of the shots at goal come from outside the arc. So one has to be on the alert.

How different is futsal from football?
The rules are different from football and the ball has a low bounce.

Sliema are passing from a bright patch and will now face Mqabba in the play-off semi-final. How difficult is the challenge for the championship?

It’s not going to be easy but we are adamant to keep our feet on the ground. We are working as a group and this is the key for success.

Sliema is also a mix of experienced and young players…

Yes it’s true. In fact I am the youngest player in the squad although it doesn’t make any difference. We all help each other and learn from one another. Unity is the key for success.

You have also scored your first goal in the league from a shot from the second penalty spot…
Yes I was very happy after scoring this goal from the second penalty spot. I would like to thank the team for giving me this golden opportunity.

Your personal objectives.
My personal objectives are to improve more in this sport. My greatest wish is to don the national team shirt.