Month: May 2017

Full marks for Sliema

STEPHEN AZZOPARDI
Sliema Wanderers confirmed their consistency in the Division One, obtaining 9 wins out of 9. Definitely the Wanderers were performing much better since Aleksander Ribic took the role of player/coach. As Ribic said to fma.com.mt, as a team they are trying to put their level of playing and fitness on a higher level. The results are the proof of their good performance, which put them on top of Division One, thus giving them a secure place in the playoffs. For Sliema this will be second consecutive presence in the playoffs and maybe their second consecutive final. By enhancing their team spirit and determination, all this can be achieved by Sliema Wanderers.
Prior to the playoffs stage, Sliema secured another three points, against Qormi. In the first half Sliema were already by 6-1, amongst all a Ribic’s hat-trick. Uros Markovic and Radovan Duric were also on the mark, together with Etienne Bonnici’s own goal. Antoine Galea managed to score Qormi’s first goal. In the second half Sliema Wanderers added three more goals through a brace from Darren Agius and a goal scored by Leandros Calleja. Adrian Fenech scored Qormi’s second goal in the dying minutes of the match.

George Frendo, the flamboyant star for Msida

STEPHEN AZZOPARDI
Msida SJ consolidated their second place in Division One, thanks to another stylish performance lead by George Frendo’s five goals. Tarxien JMI could do nothing as they were defeated 9-3 by Msida SJ. Herbert Spiteri was twice on the mark, as Florin Manea and Ryan Xuereb added more goals for the seasiders. Tarxien JMI reduced the matters with a brace from Joseph Meilak and a goal scored by Leonard Alla.

Zurrieq Wolves enjoyed a winning end to the season as they earned an exciting 4-3 victory over Marsascala Construct Furniture. Even though they didn’t make it to get up from the bootom place, their last game of the season was a very reactive and positive one. In the ninth minute, a quick fire brace by Alistair Camilleri gave the Wolves a double advantage and the score remained unchanged till the end of the first half.
In the last seven minutes, the match turned to be an unpredictable affair, as both teams continued to score till the last minute. Unfortunately Russell Camilleri deflected the ball into his team’s net, but he also managed to increase the score for the Wolves. Three minutes from the end, Franklin Abela scored and gave a little hope for Marsascala. In the dying minute Christian Bezzina sealed the victory for Zurrieq Wolves. Reuben Degabriele scored the last goal of the match but Marsascala had no chance to level the matters.

Luxol strike gold in convincing fashion

Valletta…..2
Luxol …..5

ROBERT BUSUTTIL
Pitched in a direct confrontation with Valletta, the defending champions, Luxol conjured up a tenacious performance to overcome their rivals 5-2 and grab the first win in the Gatorade Futsal Elite play-off leg 1 final.
It was a typical encounter between two heavyweights in the local futsal scene with the St Andrews side showing nerves of steel to keep the Citizens at bay.
The atmosphere was in full swing when the two teams walked on to the court for kick-off with the Valletta fans unfurling three giant flags that covered their entire section at the western part of the Corradino Pavillion.
On their part even Luxol had a good amount of spectators as both sets of supporters gave their all to support their team.
Prior to kick-off both teams observed a one-minute silence in tribute to Xavier Saliba’s father and Rodrigo’s grandmother who both passed away this week.
The game was off to a storming start as Luxol took the lead inside the opening minutes.
It was Giancarlo Sammut who unleashed a stunning shot that gave Neil Cuschieri, the Valletta goalkeeper, no chance.
Spurred on by their bright start, Luxol continued to show the better ideas with their hard-running players bossing every part of the court.
The early goal rattled Valletta but they hit back as they were quick to break on the counter. Milijic, leaving a Luxol player behind him, passed to Raphinha who was ready to strike but instead it was Frane Despotovic who put the ball in his own net to help involuntarily his opponents drew level.

When the game resumed after the half-time break, Valletta tried to show greater intent but instead it was Luxol that punished the Lilywhites with well-taken goals.
First it was Frane Despotovic who surprised the Valletta keeper with a curling shot and minutes later it was Andy Mangion who struck home a first-timer after meeting a Bizjak corner to make the score 3-1.
Valletta tried to produce a reaction but they found themselves struggling to break down Luxol’s defence.
The latter took advantage of a defensive error to make it 4-1 as Dejan Bijzak’s grounder surprised Cuschieri after a personal action that wreaked havoc in the City box.
Luxol’s optimism rose when Mark Zammit received a good pass before rifling the ball into the net sparking joyous celebrations among the Luxol fans who were visibly over the moon after their team’s performance.
Valletta found the time to score a consolation goal through the league top scorer Raphinha who met a pass from Xavier Saliba to slot the ball into the net and make the score a more creditable one.
At the end of the match, it was Luxol and their partying fans who took centre-stage with their celebrations for this first leg win that puts them on the driving seat ahead of next week second leg final.

Aleksander Ribic helps rampant Sliema to easy victory

STEPHEN AZZOPARDI
Sliema Wanderers remain on top of Division One after Aleksander Ribic scored five in a thrashing 11-0 on Zurrieq Wolves. The first half was made up of a brilliant hat-trick by Aleksander Ribic. This was the prelude of a bigger scoring trend in the second half. Ribic added another two goals, together with braces from Jurgen Mifsud and Nikolay Filipov. Paul Bugeja and even Sliema’s goalkeeper Brandon Debono, were on the mark. Sliema will now face Qormi, as all teams will play their last game, before the Division One’s playoff stage.
Swieqi U21 achieved a 4-2 win over Qrendi, prior to their last match of the season against Mriehel ESS. Qrendi’s Antonello Brincat scored both the opening and closing goal of the match. On the other hand, Swieqi’s youngsters equalised the score and continued to score with no look back. Swieqi’s scorers’ list was made up of Timothy Gingell, Dylan Pace, Karl Sciortino and Jurgen Ciantar.

Qormi achieve play-offs dream

ROBERT BUSUTTIL
In the Gatorade First Division, Qormi Futsal joined Sliema, Msida and Mriehel ESS in the play-offs after winning their direct clash against Safi San Lorenzo 2-0.
It was a tight match between two teams that were aiming for a place in the final four.
After the first half ended in a stalemate, in the second half Qormi started aggressively and managed to score the goals that mattered through James Tabone and Adrian Fenech.
Msida grabbed their third consecutive victory after outclassing Marsascala 11-2.
The team led by Kevin Agius set the ball rolling from the first minutes of the game and succeeded in dominating their opponents who found little space to create goal-scoring opportunities.
Chris Cardona and George Frendo were in fine form as they struck a hat-trick, Chris Cutajar and Mohammed Elamari hit the target twice while Herbert Spiteri rubberstamped the Seasiders’ victory.
Marsascala’s consolation goals came through a brace from Franklin Abela.
Mriehel ESS strengthened their third place in the table courtesy of a 9-2 drubbing over Tarxien JMI.
Mriehel had a positive outing and established a 3-1 advantage before the interval.
In the second half, they controlled the match scoring six more goals in the process.
Ayoub Ahmad, Eslam Khalifa and Fabio Grech netted a double as Mark Anthony Galea, Kenneth Bonanno and Kamal Edgeli extended the score for Mriehel.
Joseph Meilak and Hamza Afifi were on the mark for Tarxien.

Luxol and Valletta, ready for the final challenge

STEPHEN AZZOPARDI
Valletta transmitted their clear intension of securing their place in the final, through their win of 8-4 against Hamrun Tre Angeli. This result followed their score of 6-2 against the same opponents during last week’s first leg.
Daniel Jesus Aguilera Puerto opened the score and ignited the excitement of Valletta’s supporters present at the Corradino Sport Pavillion. Things turned to the worst for Hamrun Tre Angeli, as Florin Anton deflected the ball in his team’s net. A powerful shot from Xavier Saliba was definitely another jaw dropping goal. Later arrived the time for Melvin Borg to put his name on the score sheet for Valletta. Before the end of the first half, Hamrun’s captain Jason Mifsud reduced the matters for Hamrun.
No change occurred during the second half, as Valletta continued marching over. Hamrun’s Brazilian prolific player Everton Da Silva Santos had a hat-trick. In the meantime Clayton Felice’s boys never ceased their determination and kept scoring every now and then. Melvin Borg scored his second personal goal, while Raphael Felipe Ortiz De Oliveira was also twice on the mark. Rodrigo Ticz Patricio sealed the end result and he’ll personally play again in the final, this time with Valletta.
Luxol easily secured their place in the final after last week’s 10-1, and this time making it 11-2 against the same Swieqi. Despite having various absences, Luxol continued to impress. Apart from the semi final results, Swieqi ended up satisfied with the progress throughout the season, as they made it to the Elite and finished this season’s adventure in the playoffs.
Emil Raducu celebrated his birthday with his magnificent opening goal. Gian Carlo Sammut and captain Mark Zammit were sky high with their hat-tricks, together with Dejan Bizjak’s brace and goals from Zvezdan Vukovic and William Barbosa. Both goals for Swieqi were scored by Boicho Marev.
Luxol and Valletta will kick off their first challenge this coming Friday at 8pm, in the Corradino Sports Pavilion.

Another goal bonanza for Sliema Wanderers

STEPHEN AZZOPARDI
Aleksander Ribic’s five goals, were Sliema Wanderers’ catalyst in another goal bonanza. Uros Markovic had a hat-trick, while braces from Nikolay Filipov and Leandros Calleja, together with goals from Sean Keane Cassar Degabriele and Mauro Busuttil, gave no chance to Tarxien JMI.
Sliema Wanderers are still leading the Division One’s table with 45 points, five points ahead of Msida SJ. Next week Sliema has the chance to extend their lead, when they’ll play against bottom team Zurrieq Wolves. On the other hand it shouldn’t be difficult for Msida, who will face Marsascala Construct Furniture. The south-siders are coming from two consecutive defeats, against Mriehel ESS and Qormi.

Last chance for Hamrun, Luxol prepare for final

ROBERT BUSUTTIL
Hamrun Tre Angeli head into tonight’s Gatorade Elite Play-offs semifinal second leg (kick-off 20.00) needing to reverse a 6-2 deficit against Valletta to progress to the final.
As Hamrun’s experienced keeper Matthew Mifsud said, the team must pull up their socks and show more cohesion and precision to produce a remarkable comeback.
Despite all this, Mifsud admitted that the group was a bit disappointed but still hopeful.
“Although we knew before the first leg that we were the underdogs of this tie, naturally we hoped for a better result.”
“Despite all this, the team is upbeat and positive. We are a small but united team and despite the many setbacks due to injuries, we have always trained hard to achieve and are still confident as ever of our own capabilities.”
On the other hand, Stefan Vella, the Valletta custodian, is certain Hamrun will adopt an offensive plan.
“We’re expecting Hamrun to attack as from the very first second. We have prepared for this eventuality and all the players are psychologically prepared for this match. We believe that we can do it.”
As regards to the atmosphere in the Valletta clan, Vella confirms the unity of the team.
“The atmosphere between us is stronger than ever. We are all in it to win and book a place in the final.”
The former Lija keeper is excited about the prospect of his first ever final in his career.
“I’m really looking forward as this would be my first final in the play-offs.”
On the other hand, Luxol head into their second leg play-off final clash against Swieqi tonight (kick-off 21.30 hrs) in high spirits after a 10-1 mauling over their same opponents on Friday.
The St Andrews side will take to the court at the Corradino Pavillion eager to record a second consecutive win to clinch the title for the second time since FMA took charge of the organization of the local futsal scene as well as participate for the second time in the UEFA Futsal Cup.
While Luxol go into the game on a high following their first leg big victory, Swieqi know that they have a mammoth task to overturn this deficit and are facing this encounter without any particular pressure eager to show off a better performance from the last match as coach Nikola Farrugia explained.
“We are approaching the second leg as we did for the other matches, with determination and play our style of futsal.”
“Although we lost the first leg, we are going for the second match to put in a better performance. Throughout the season, we showed what we can do and we will give our hundred per cent no matter what.”
Farrugia is overwhelmed by what Swieqi have done so far.
“Boicho (Marev) and I are very happy with this year’s performance. Even the defeat against Luxol in the play-offs didn’t dampen our year.”
“We had two targets; firstly to reach the Elite round and then qualify for the play-offs. We reached our target and now we will resume our progress by learning from our mistakes.”
Despite their massive advantage, Luxol’s Andy Mangion seemed cautious in his approach.
“It’s true we have earned a good advantage from the first leg, but that doesn’t mean we should underestimate our opponents. We will get into the match with respect towards Swieqi while at the same time trying to manage our advantage keeping in mind that we need to be physically and mentally prepared for the eventual final.”
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 Hamrun
21.30 hrs – Swieqi vs Luxol

Five goal Frendo propels Msida to victory

ROBERT BUSUTTIL
George Frendo marshalled his team to victory as he helped Msida to see off Qrendi 14-2 and maintain the chase after leaders Sliema Wanderers.
The Seasiders, who are assured of a place in the last four play-offs, produced a commanding performance against a side that had few spaces conceded to produce a reaction.
Frendo opened up his goal scoring spree to five goals as Mohammed Elamari netted a poker.
Chris Cutajar scored a brace while Armando Gjepali, Floren Manea and Ricardo Ortega Toro were also on the mark.
Mriehel ESS were held 6-6 by minnows Zurrieq Wolves in a very entertaining match.
More was expected from Mriehel as they failed to capitalize several occasions at goal with Zurrieq battling hard and reacting swiftly to obtain a merited draw.
Ayoub Ahmed hit the target three times while Marwan Terlisi scored a brace.
Eslam Khalifa scored Mriehel’s last goal to salvage a dramatic point against a surprising Zurrieq side.
The latter had returning player Russell Camilleri their main protagonist when he scored four goals while Nicolai Damato and Alistair Camilleri added to their tally.
Qormi Futsal obtained a precious win to continue their chase for a play-off spot when they saw off Marsascala Construct Furniture 5-1.
They had their nippy striker Ryan Gilmour Cassar putting his name twice on the score sheet while Miguel Alcaraz, James Tabone and an own goal sealed the issue for the Yellows.
Josef Balzan scored Marsascala’s only goal.

Luxol and Valletta start aiming for the final

STEPHEN AZZOPARDI
A dominant Luxol gave little chance to Swieqi, in the first Elite Playoffs Semi Final played at the Corradino Sport Pavillion. Luxol scored a magnificent series of nine goals before the break. At the start of the second half Swieqi tried to have their say and Dimitar Petev managed to find the net. Dejan Mizjak who also scored another goal earlier in the first half, sealed this win and made the final score 10-1. Luxol’s Andy Mangion had a swift hat-trick, while Gian Carlo Sammut and Emil Andrei Raducu had a brace apiece. Swieqi’s Kurt Bartolo unfortunately performed an own goal.
In another thrilling match between Valletta and Hamrun Tre Angeli, the Citizens obtained an advantage of four goals. After four minutes of play, Hamrun broke the deadlock through Florin Anton. Valletta equalised matters through Daniel Jesus Aguilera Puerto and Raphael Felipe Ortiz de Oliveira put them on the lead. Xavier Saliba increased the score for Valletta, while Cleaven Portelli levelled down to 3-2 before the end of the first half.

During the second half, Valletta showed their aggressive side and stuck with their strong aim to be the winners of this game. Goals were scored by Denis Di Maio, another one by Daniel Jesus Aguilera Puerto and Jovica Milijic.
Next Friday the same teams will face each other to confirm the finalists for this season’s Elite Playoffs Final. Eventually the winner of the competition will have access to play in the preliminary round of the UEFA Futsal Cup.