Gżira United coach Darren Abdilla has warned his players against any form of complacency as the Maroons look to prolong their positive start to the Premier League campaign when they take on newly-promoted Żejtun Corinthians at the Centenary Stadium on Saturday (kick-off: 7.15pm).
It has been a very busy period for the 16 teams playing in the top-flight since play returned following the international break with three matchdays held in just over a week.
During this period, Gżira United and Żejtun Corinthians both enjoyed impressive form.
The Maroons head into this weekend’s fixtures on the back of three successive victories that lifted them to second place in the standings on 10 points, just two adrift of leaders Ħamrun Spartans.
On the other hand, the Corinthians, in their first experience in the Premier League, have shown that they are capable of surviving the demands of the division, and an eye-catching 3-2 win over Birkirkara was followed with a goalless draw against Balzan that left them in 10th place on six points.
Abdilla, the Gżira coach, has been heartened by the team performances of late but is not underestimating the threat posed by Żejtun and has warned his players that they need to step up their game if they are to maintain their winning run.
“We were alway goings to need time to gel as a team given the number of new players that came to our squad this summer,” Abdilla told The Times of Malta.
“After a few adjustments, the team is starting to click into gear and we have managed to rack up some important wins for our confidence. But obviously there is still margin for improvement.
“Next up is a match against Żejtun Corinthians who have turned out to be a very good side so far and it’s important that we approach the match with the right mentality.
“Żejtun are a team who have a number of interesting players who are capable to hurt us so I’m expecting a very difficult match.
“But I’m sure that if we’re focused we can get the job done.”
Abdilla is again set to be without forward Martin Davis who is nursing a hamstring injury while Zack Scerri is still sidelined.
In their last three outings, the Maroons have impressed upfront, netting 12 goals in their last three outings but Abdilla said that he is still not fully satisfied with his team’s finishing.
“One area that I am still not fully satisfied is when it comes to finishing the chances that we are creating,” the former Valletta coach said.
“In the last three matches we held a lot of possession and created a lot of chances but we failed to finish them off. We have already a taste of how costly that could turn out to be when against Tarxien we dominated the match but didn’t finish off our opponents and ended up conceding a late equaliser.
“We need to work on our finishing as given how competitive this league is, we can’t afford to drop off points cheaply.”
Żejtun Corinthians have been one of the revelations of 2020-21 Premier League season and coach Orosco Anonam said that the secret behind his team’s bright start to the season is all down to his players who have managed to gel together quickly as a team.
“It’s going to be a very difficult match for us,” Anonam said.
“So far, we have done well but it’s another tough test for my players to show that they are capable to compete against big teams like Gżira United.
“The players have done very very well since the start of the season as they gelled well as a team and every player works hard for each other and that is important to be successful.
“Obviously, the match against Gżira United is a tough match for us but I can assure you that we will be ready for it and we will try to make it as difficult as possible for them as we want to maintain our positive run going.”
Anonam is forced to make one change from the team that featured in a goalless draw against Balzan last week as midfielder Marcelo must serve a one-match ban.