Qrendi coach Lydon Fenech praised his side after a dominant display against Żebbug Rangers resulted in a deserved win at the Centenary Stadium on Sunday morning.
Goals from prolific scorer Alexander Nilsson and Dasser Sammut on either side of the half highlighted a match between a Qrendi side which has stuck with most of last season’s squad, and Żebbug which have made major changes to their line-up.
After two wins and a close 3-2 defeat in the opening day against San Ġwann, Qrendi will be looking to go one step further than last season.
With an abrupt end in March, Qrendi missed out on a playoff match but Fenech believes there were enough positives to build from last season.
“When you see what we did last season, you can easily realise that things went well and worked,” Fenech told the Times of Malta.
“We saw that a large part of the team was functioning well together so, as a technical staff with the help of our president, we decided to stick with our base of 13 players from last year and build upon what they achieved.
“I think it’s paying dividends and could make a difference. The players already know each other.”
One motivation to the club’s plan is definitely the recent call-ups of Michael Gatt and Calvin Camilleri to Silvio Vella’s Under-21 National team squad.
The latter was unable to join the team due to injury, but Gatt was in Romania last week for Malta’s 4-1 loss.
Asked about what this means to the club, Fenech said it helps show them they’re doing something right.
“We’re very happy when these things happen because it means we’re working well and that we’re on the right track. Michael (Gatt) being called up is truly deserved. He played last game, got some minutes in today as well and he’s putting in good performances.”
As for Sunday’s match, Fenech believes his side were ‘organised and prepared’.
“We knew what to expect and even though the start was balanced, once we scored we definitely took the reins. We could have scored more but in the end, we got the result,” he said.
In fact, it took the visitors 35 minutes to open the score when after numerous attempts, Nilsson followed up a swift team play on the flank
by hitting a shot from outside the area into the top corner.
Clive Mizzi’s Rangers reacted just before the break with a run into the area and a direct confrontation between Jonatan Silveira and keeper Dunstan Zarb but the Qrendi number one came out on top, pushing the ball into a corner.
To make things harder for Żebbuġ, they played the last half-hour with ten men after Shaun Bugeja collected his second yellow of the game for a rash tackle on LeeJoe Schembri.
Qrendi’s first substitution on 64 minutes could be said to be the most important as Fenech brought on Sammut instead of Sebastian Perdomo, and the former made it two for the side five minutes from time after another moment of Nilsson brilliance.
The Swede entered the area and swerved past an overcommitted Matthew Grech, who left his goal open for Sammut to score.
Żebbug tried to get a consolation goal at the death but substitute Andrea Azzopardi’s shot went over from inside the box.
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 0
ŻEBBUĠ: M. Grech, R. Vella (79 A. Azzopardi), S. Bugeja, G. Gesualdi, T. Bartolo, J. Micallef, A. Mizzi (68 J. Carbone), C. Vella (76 K. Tanti), J. Silveira, L. Mijic, S. Miloskovic.
QRENDI: D. Zarb, J. Busuttil, S. Schembri, L. Martinelli, B.
Muscat (87 N. Pabon), D.
Azzopardi (80 E. Vella), C. Camilleri, S. Perdomo (64 D.
Sammut), L. Schembri (87 M. Gatt), A. Nilsson, D. Bueno (87 D. Zarb).
Referee: Daniel Casha.
Red card: Bugeja (Ż) 63.
Best Player: Alexander Nilsson (Qrendi).
PEMBROKE: P. Schranz, K. Farrugia, D. Sant, K. Frendo (87 G. Attard), M. Zarb, P. Santos (92 S. Gauci), A. Temitope (87 L. Chiedozie), J. Bajada (92 T. Fenech), N. Grech, M. Borg, J. Etim (70 J. Ogunuppe).
QORMI: J. Vella, O. Sidibe, L. Farrugia, L. Mallia, A. Bonnici, N. Meli (69 L. Azzopardi), J. Mizzi (84 G. Sammut), N. Gauci, A. Oliviera, C. Debattista (46 R. Caruana) I. Zammit.
Referee: Ezekiel Barbara.
Scorers: Temitope (P) 41 pen.; Borg (P) 63; Zammit (Q) 68; Santos (P) 83.
ST ANDREWS 2
ST ANDREWS: N. Grima, M. Muscat, I. Azzopardi, M. D’Alessandro, F. Fernandes (32 M. Vella Vidal) (72 A. Borg Olivier), J. Farrugia, J. Sixsmith (84 S. Cassar Torregiani), L. Borg, D. Jackson, W. Camilleri, K. Bituemi.
VITTORIOSA: R. Marmara, C. Spiteri, J. Briffa, L. De Melo (75 K. Pace), G. Sultana (75 S. Grech), J. Farrugia (80 I. Curmi), Q. Bregman (75 A. Oularbi), A. Mumford, D. Sowatey, R. Farias, K. Caruana (46 D. Borg Castaldi).
Referee: Stefan Pace.
Scorer: Farrugia 45, 66.
SWIEQI UNITED 5
PIETA HOTSPURS 4
SWIEQI: E. Gatt, M. Attard (65 I. Micallef), J. Magri Overend (80 K. Micallef), I. Salis (80 S. Elfarsi), A. Schembri Wismayer, M. Ivanovic, A. Shaw (65 K. Muscat), C. Cutajar, F. Temile (58 J. Willy), J. Azzopardi.
PIETÀ: J. Chircop St John, S. Okoh, L. Cassar Jackson, J. Pace, N. Pace Cocks, J. Ghio (77 S. Pisani), D. Segura (77 G. Borg), C. Bouvet, N. Pisani, C. Ze Lucas, J. Scicluna.
Referee: Emanuel Grech.
Scorers: Pace Cocks (P) 2; Segura (P) 20; Shaw (S) 29; Schembri Wismayer (S) 42 pen.; Salis (S) 50, 64 pen.; Scicluna (P) 53, 83; Muscat (S) 69.
Red card: Pace Cocks (P) 65.
SAN ĠWANN 3
ST GEORGES 0
SAN ĠWANN: C. Formosa, J. Bowman (87 I. Colombo), L. Mallia (63 N. Abouaisha), C. Gauci, P. Kanzurov (63 D. Mifsud), O. Spiteri, C. Attah (82 D. Fava), A. Zammit, C. Omoruanzoje (87 J. Grech), C. Gauci, C. Umeh.
ST GEORGES: M. Bartolo, M. Caruana, R. Mandic (70 A. Gili), L. Bonett (L. Agius), D.
Caruana, B. Bruno, S. Darmanin, D. Serna, R. Tanti (77 F. Lufi), A. Hili (70 M. Reid), O. Magro (83 J. Grech).
Referee: Aleksandar Jovanovic
Scorers: Attah 21, 67; Zammit 83.
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