After more than a month of inactivity, Sirens return to Premier League duty when they take on Tarxien Rainbows in a rescheduled match at the Centenary Stadium on Saturday afternoon (kick-off: 2pm).
The St Paul’s Bay side were forced to go into a mandatory quarantine at start of October after reporting a number of positive COVID-19 cases with the result that the Malta FA was forced to reschedule all their matches originally pencilled for last month.
Steve D’Amato’s team has now returned to training and will be looking to kickstart their campaign with a win over a struggling Tarxien Rainbows side.
So far, it has been anything but a positive start for the St Paul’s Bay outfit who have only one point to show from their opening three matches.
Contacted by The Times of Malta, D’Amato admitted that his team were heading into the match with a major concern over the team’s physical preparation but said that despite all the potential problems they will be facing, they will be doing everything they can to pick up their first league win of the season.
“The last few weeks have been very difficult for us. We were forced to go into quarantine for two weeks and that inevitably had a negative effect on the physical fitness of our players,” D’Amato said.
“In the last week or so, we have resumed training but it’s difficult to have the team in the best possible physical condition after such a stoppage and I’m expecting the team to struggle from a condition aspect.
“But irrespective of all these problems, we are still looking at this match as a good opportunity for us to pick our first win of the season. Prior to our stoppage, the team was growing in its performances. Bar our league opener against Ħamrun, the team was performing well particularly against Sliema Wanderers and Floriana, so hopefully, we can recover our poise.”
D’Amato said that he is still unsure whether he can count on all members of his personnel for today’s match and will assess his options closer to kick off when it comes to naming his starting formation.
“Unfortunately, I still have to see who are those players that are more ready for the match against Tarxien,” D’Amato said.
“As I said, our physical preparation is still far from optimal and we need to be cautious as I don’t want to cause any injuries. Added to that, it’s important that we look beyond the match against Tarxien as we have to play another three matches in a short span of time so I will certainly need every player in our squad. It will be important to ensure the well-being of all players as everyone will be important in the next month.”
While Sirens are looking to put their campaign back on track, Tarxien Rainbows also had little to smile about in recent weeks.
Winston Muscat’s men have struggled for consistency, going from a 5-0 win over Senglea Athletic to crash back down to earth last weekend when they slumped to a 5-0 defeat to Gudja United.
The Tarxien coach admitted that his team has not had the best of starts to the season and has called on his players to step up their game if they are to start picking up valuable points in their bid to move away from the relegation places.
“It’s going to be a very difficult match, irrespective of the problems Sirens went through in the last few weeks,” Muscat said.
“Our form in recent weeks hasn’t been great. Consistency has been our major flaw. We have passed from fine performances to very poor displays and no doubt we need to step our game.
“Our season’s preparations have been anything but easy as we had a set of Brazilian players that were due to join the club that couldn’t travel to Malta so we had to look elsewhere.
“I am not saying that I am not happy with our foreign players but I think that the whole squad of players must step up their level of performances.
“The team has yet to reach their best levels of performance and we must continue to work hard on the training pitch to be able to produce much better performances.
“This year, we have a long and hard season in front of us and it’s important that we focus on each and every match and try and win as many points as possible. That is the only way for us to climb the standings and put ourselves in a safe position.
“We have shown time and again this season that we are capable of offering a stern challenges to the top teams in the division so we just need to show more consistency and results will surely improve.”
The Rainbows are expected to be without two key players today, namely defender Daniel Zerafa and midfielder Luke Sciberras, who are sidelined by injury.