Hibernians coach Stefano Sanderra hailed his team’s work ethic in their 1-0 win over Gżira United that lifted the Paolites to the top of the Premier League standings.
However, the Italian coach is still not fully satisfied with the performance levels of his players and said that the team had still a lot of work to do to maximise their potential.
The Paolites had to battle hard for the points against Gżira in a very tactical game which saw the two teams cancel each other with the result that scoring chances were few and far between.
Jake Grech got the all-important goal in a rare attacking foray to put the Paolites at the top of the standings on 23 points, one ahead of Ħamrun and Sliema.
Sanderra said that he was pleased with his team’s collective effort, particularly when it came to defend their one-goal lead.
“It was far from an easy match as we faced a Gżira side who were tactically very balanced,” Sanderra said.
“Both teams worked their socks off and managed to cancel each other with the result that scoring chances were scarce. We were very good in making the most of our only opportunity created from open play that in the end earned us the three points.
“Once we were in front we did well to protect our advantage with some sound defending, even when we lost Andrei Agius to injury, and that is a huge positive.”
Despite the win against one of the title rivals, Sanderra is still not happy with the overall performance of his team this season and made it clear that they had a lot of work to do.
“We may be at the top of the standings, but I’m still not happy with my team’s performances,” Sanderra said.
“During matches we are unable to develop our game while from a tactical point of view there is also a lot to improve on as the team is too long on the pitch and we end up being exposed.
“In the last few weeks, we had little time to have all the players available for training due to the national team commitments. But now, things will improve as we will be together for much more time so we can develop our game.
“The thing that gives me most courage is the fact that the players attitude is exceptional as they are always willing to work hard and that is very important to improve as a team.”
Sanderra said that he is not giving too much importance to the fact that the team is at the top of the standings, particularly given that all top teams are very close to each other.
“The level of the Maltese Premier League has increased considerably this season and that is mirrored by the league standings with the top teams separated by a few points,” Sanderra said.
“All teams in the top division are very well prepared from a tactical point of view and if any of the top teams approaches a match with less intensity than usual then they are set for a nasty surprise and end up dropping points.”
Asked to pinpoint the reasons for this increase in performance in this year’s top-flight, Sanderra said: “The level of coaches in the Premier League has gone up. It’s not just the overseas coaches but also the Maltese who have made giant strides forward.
“Added to that the excellent work done by the national team coaching set-up has also helped. Teams are far more organized and that is being mirrored in having a far more competitive championship and nobody, until today, can pinpoint who will lift the crown at the end of the season.
“And that is excellent for everyone to see.”