Coach Winston Muscat is urging his players to start believing in themselves more as Tarxien Rainbows revived their hopes of avoiding relegation this season with a hard-fought win over rivals Balzan at the Hibs Stadium on Saturday.
A Raphael Kooh-Sohna goal from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time was enough for the third-from-bottom Rainbows to see off Balzan and bridge the gap over the Reds, who are currently one-place above them, to four points and five behind Żejtun Corinthians who are sitting in the play-out spot at the moment.
The win over Balzan was the second positive result achieved by the Rainbows in the space of a week after they battled to a 2-2 draw against Floriana in midweek.
“This was a very important victory for us,” coach Winston Muscat told The Times of Malta.
“Ahead of our matches against Floriana and Balzan we knew that these were crucial fixtures where we needed to pick up points if we were to remain in the running to avoid relegation this season.
“The build-up to the match was quite tricky for us. Having faced Floriana in midweek, we only had two days to recover for the match while Balzan had almost a week to prepare.
“We knew that in the second part of the match we would suffer a dip in our physical fitness but the players fought hard and battled to preserve the win and they deserve a lot of praise.
“The only thing that disappointed me was the fact that in the second half we were too sloppy when pushing forward as we lacked that final pass in the final third that would hurt them and that is something that we need to improve on… we need to be more ruthless.”
The Rainbows have been one of the most active teams in the January transfer window where they managed to bring in four new signings in a bid to revive their fortunes. In fact, they signed Brazilian defender Alex Chaba, midfielder Ivan Paz, and forwards Erisa Ssekisambu and Kooh-Sohna.
Muscat admitted that the club needed to scour the market in January to try and redress the balance of the team after some of the summer signings failed to deliver.
“At the start of the season, we had a project with foreign agents to bring in players and complete the squad by August but due to COVID-19 we had to change our plans,” Muscat said.
“Maybe we rushed into making some decisions when we signed some overseas players and the January transfer window was an opportunity to bolster our foreign line. We needed to bring in four players with four different characteristics, presence, power, pace and technique.
“We managed to complete this task this month when we brought in Raphael Kooh-Sohna, Ivan Paz, Erisa Ssekisambu while at the back we brought on an experienced defender in Alex Chaba, four signings that significantly improved our squad.
“These players are already leaving their mark on the pitch and more importantly even off the field as they have great character and have strengthened the bond that exists among the players in the squad, which could be a key factor heading into the crucial final part of the season.”
Next up for Tarxien are two very difficult fixtures when they face title challengers Gżira United and Hibernians but Muscat said that despite the daunting challenge facing his team, these results will instil confidence in the players to try and pick up valuable points.
“The win against Balzan could be a game-changer in our season,” the Muscat said.
“I hope these players will start believing more in themselves and approach our next matches with the conviction that they are capable of picking points against any team.
“There are still a lot of matches to go and many points are at stake so it is crucial that we keep working hard and try and play the style of game irrespective of our opponents.”