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‘Still a long way to go’ says Vella as Naxxar eye consistent run

Bradley Schembri (right) holds off Daniel Bueno. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier


Naxxar Lions will be happy to take motivation from their 2-0 win against Qrendi on Thursday at the Victor Tedesco Stadium which takes them up into the top ten in the Challenge League standings as we near the midway point of the season.

Coach George Vella believes that while it is important to win matches against clubs like Qrendi, “it is just one game and there’s still a long way to go”.

“Qrendi are a good team, as their line-up suggests, so we had to adapt our game according to how they play. We focused on midfield because we know it is the greatest weapon,” Vella told the Times of Malta.

“The system worked because we got our goal and attacked as well. Then just like we had our chances, they had theirs too.

“In the second half, we wanted to make it comfortable for us and we managed to get another goal. I think it was a day in which the tactics worked.”

Asked about how they will now aim to keep up consistency, Vella explained that this all depends on factors which are both on and off the pitch.

“This is not something which is only on the pitch. You need to have a good team off the pitch who work to support everyone. Consistency does not only come from winning matches. You win those matches only if you have players who are happy, and a committee who wants to do well and who back the players and coach. Other than all that, it’s the injuries which determine everything,” he said.

“For players who are semi-professional, some even amateur, in this period which forces them to play five matches in 14 days, training has had to change. It has to be different than having lots of running as you need to have as many players available as possible to keep up the level. But that’s easier said than done.

“Players won’t tell you that they’re tired. They all fear losing their place in the team so no one’s going to say, ‘Coach take me off, I’m tired’. But one needs to figure out from the movements that players make and discuss one-to-one with them to see what they’re going through. Everybody wants to play and it’s only fair.”

Qrendi had the first opportunity to go ahead after just seven minutes from a cross which found Daniel Bueno but his touch on the volley was mistimed and the effort went wide.

The Greens were made to pay for that mistake as on 20 minutes, Naxxar went ahead with their first attempt. After a miscommunication in defence where goalkeeper Craig Abdilla’s pass was intercepted inside the area by Eryks Ferreira, of scoring from point-blank range.

While Qrendi controlled most of possession, play was mostly stuck around the half for the rest of play until the break.

The losing side continued to push for an equaliser after the break but Naxxar shotstopper Omar Borg was alert to stop shots from Calvin Camilleri, David Azzopardi and also a freekick from Nicolas Pabon, all within 10 minutes.

Sustaining their lead got harder for Naxxar after the hour when Steve Meilak was show a straight red card for a rash tackle from behind during a Qrendi counter.

However, they did not succumb to the pressure as Vella’s side scored another with fifteen minutes to go. After Abdilla mistimed his attempt to save in the air, the ball ricocheted off Bueno, who could not stop it from falling to Ferreira, and he only had to turn and shoot into the empty net.

Qrendi did have another chance to score a consolation goal at the death but substitute Daniel Vassallo skied his volley inside the area.

NAXXAR LIONS: O. Borg, M. Fenech, N. Borg, E. Ferreira, A. Azzopardi, R. Cassar, J. Ellul (88 J. Sciberras), F. Zuniga, T. Battaglia, S. Meilak, B. Schembri.
QRENDI: C. Abdilla, L. Martinelli, S. Schembri, N. Pabon (75 D. Sammut), A. Agius, D. Bueno, E. vella, S. Perdomo, D. Azzopardi (86 D. Vassallo), L. Schembri, C. Camilleri.
Referee: Andrea Sciriha.
Scorers: Ferreira 20, 74.
Red card: Meilak (N) 68.
Best player: Erikys Ferreira (Naxxar Lions).



ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS: M. Grech, K. Vella, S. Bugeja, G. Gesualdi, T. Bartolo, R. Vella, A. Mizzi (26 K. Bondin), C. Gauci, J. Carbone (86 A. Azzopardi), J. Silveira, L. Mijic (12 S. Miloskovic).
SAN ĠWANN: D. Sciberras, O. Spiteri, D. Fava (86 G. Pace), G. Gauci, J. Bowman (69 P. Kanzurov), Z. Bowman, C. Gauci, C. Omoruanzoje, C. Umeh, A. Falzon (46 L. Mallia), A. Zammit.
Referee: Sandro Spiteri
Scorers: Spiteri (S) 50; Gesualdi (Z) 71 pen.


QORMI: J. Vella, O. Sidibe, D. Perassolli, L. Farrugia, A. Bonnici (83 C. Mula), R. Caruana, N. Meli, I. Mizzi, N. Gauci, M. Busuttil (55 L. Mallia), I. Zammit (83 L. Azzopardi).
MQABBA: J. Grech, N. Falzon, D. Pace, R. Cauchi, J. Castano, K. Cutajar, R. Cutajar (70 G. Micallef), R. Spiteri (90 J. Azzopardi), D. Micallef (90 F. Zammit), G. Cesani, B. Sciberras (88 G. Bugeja).
Referee: Ezekiel Barbara
Scorers: Castano; Micallef 54, 89.


ST GEORGE’S: M. Bartolo, M. Caruana, R. Mandic, L. Bonett, D. Caruana, C. Gomes, L. Agius, D. Serna, R. Tanti, O. Magro, J. Grech.
VITTORIOSA: R. Caruana, C. Spiteri, I. Curmi (46 A. Sultana), L. de Melo; J. Farrugia, Q. Bregman, D. Sowatey, A. Galea (71 I. Abela), R. previ, A. Oularbi (58 R. Farias), D. Borg Castaldi.
Referee: Aleksandar Jovanovic
Scorer: De Melo 89.


ST ANDREWS: D. Formosa, I. Azzopardi, K. Bituemi, M. Muscat, R. Micallef Decesare, S. cassar Torregiani, L. Grech, J. Sixsmith (79 M. D’Alessandro), Z. Muscat, A. Borg Olivier, D. Jackson.
PEMBROKE ATHLETA: P. Schranz, N. Grech, M. Borg, K. Farrugia, D. Sant, T. Fenech, K. Frendo, P. Santos (73 M. Brincat), J. Etim (88 A. Marshall), K. Aquilina (73 J. Ogunuppe), L. Chiedozie (52 A. Temitope.
Referee: Shaun Calleja
Scorers: Chiedozie (P) 24 og; Aquilina (P) 29; Etim (P) 61.


SWIEQI UNITED: J. Debattista, I. Micallef, J. Magri Overend (56 D. Borg), S. Elfarsi, J. Micallef, I. Salis (77 J. Willy), A. Schembri Wismayer, M. Ivanovic, C. Cutajar, F. Temile (90 T. Ayorinde), J. Azzopardi.
MARSAXLOKK: F. Tabone (46 A. Chetcuti), C. Degabriele, J. Morales, N. Ghio (50 G. Barone), P. Doffo (80 J. Spiteri), JP. Mifsud Triganza, I. Paz (70 D. Cartella), B. Sciberras, C. Brincat, P. Xuereb, R. Fenech (80 R. Sammut).
Referee: Slawomir Olucha
Scorer: Temile 4.


PIETA HOTSPURS: M. Chetcuti, L. Cassar Jackson, J. Irimiya, C. Bouvet, M. Portelli, N. Pace Cocks, N. Pisani (76 G. Borg), J. Ghio, J. Scicluna, D. Segura, C. Ze Lucas.
FGURA UNITED: B. Bartolo, J. Cassar (60 C. Gandini), J. Stensen, J. Vella, C. Ciantar (70 J. Barbara), T. Grech (86 R. Gove), N. Ojuola, S. Abela (60 G. Martin), JP. Abela, G. Galea (86 M. Vella), S. Hili.
Referee: Ishmael Barbara
Scorers: Segura (P) 22, 77; Hili (F) 63, 74.


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