SENGLEA ATHLETIC 1
TARXIEN RAINBOWS 6
Tarxien Rainbows will be looking to make the most of their chances this season, in order to secure promotion back into the top echelon of Maltese football. Coach Steve D’Amato’s clan showed this ambition as they thumped Senglea Athletic 6-1 on the opening day.
Speaking to the Times of Malta after the match, D’Amato had nothing but praise for his players after they showed what he referred to as “the perfect attitude” on the night.
“It was a very good showing,” the former Sirens coach said.
“I am very happy with how the players behaved and how they acted on the pitch. I think we had the perfect attitude and of course, the best start to this new season.”
This comes as Tarxien were one of four teams that were relegated into the Challenge League after the end of last season, all four facing each other on Friday with Lija Athletic and Żejtun Corinthians battling it out earlier in the day.
In spite of this, D’Amato’s clan was a class above Senglea and they were even four goals to the good by the end of the first half. Senglea scored a consolation goal eventually but Tarxien were in no mood to stop asserting their dominance on the game.
“Looking at how the (Challenge) league is this season, many teams are strong, and they’ve built up competitive squads,” D’Amato explained.
“We are one of those teams and we believe we’ve got a team which is strong enough to compete with the top teams because I personally believe that Tarxien are a team which belongs in the Premier League – it is a team with a lot of history when it comes to the Premier League and I think we should be one of those teams at the top in order to get back to where we belong.”
This rings true as the side has made 12 new additions over the summer, five of which are coming from the Premier League.
“I’m very happy with my squad because we’ve managed to hold onto the nucleus of players which were with us last year in the Premier League, something which was very important,” D’Amato said.
“But we’ve also brought in new players, many having experience at a higher level than this league. I think we’ve got a good mix of players, both youth and experience.
“Something we are also doing is giving opportunity to younger players, like in today’s game when we put in three players from the minors’ squad. I think we have a good variety within our squad with which we obviously hope to have a positive season.”
This strength was showcased immediately as the first action of the game brought about the first goal after only four minutes.
A run by the inspired Ricardo Faria on the right, gave him enough space to produce a cross which Darren Falzon headed past Senglea goalkeeper James Pisani to open the floodgates.
Falzon, brought to the club to replace the team’s former goal-machine Vito Plut, who moved to Santa Lucia FC over the summer, was in his element as he troubled their opponents constantly.
Senglea’s response came a few minutes later with an Ezekiel Tawiah shot from a distance which went well over.
Tarxien looked the more creative side on the pitch and they made this count on 21 minutes when Thiago Nonato swerved past his overcommitted marker inside the area, laid the ball to Faria who smashed the ball into the top of the net.
At this point, Senglea were struggling to even complete their passes into the opposing half.
Tarxien made it three on the half-hour after a shot from the left was tipped onto the bar by Pisani, but not enough as the ball ricocheted back into the area for skipper Matthew Tabone to head in.
Just four minutes later, Senglea’s nightmare continued as Faria got his brace and the Rainbows’ fourth, this time reaching a long pass and chipping the ball over the onrushing Pisani.
While the halftime whistle was a welcomed break for Senglea, the second half was more of the same as three minutes in, Tarxien were five goals ahead. Faria was the creator yet again as he rounded his marker inside the area but pushed the ball to new club addition Saturday Nanapere who sent it home himself.
Things got slightly better for Senglea but not before they suffered an injury-forced substitution for Christian Sammut just before the hour.
However, they spoiled Tarxien goalkeeper Jurgen Borg’s perfect debut with a goal from the spot as second half substitute Larson Mallia was hacked inside the area, and sent the former Gżira United shot-stopper the other way.
Mallia went close to scoring a second five minutes from time, but his volley went just wide.
Tarxien were not finished yet and in injury time, Nonato got his goal, also from the spot, to complete Tarxien’s opening day rout.
SENGLEA ATHLETIC: J. Pisani, J. Sultana, E. Tawiah, M. Zarb, A. Tenorio, R. Dalli, O. Magro, L. Ferreira, C. Sammut, N. Grech, R. Tanti.
TARXIEN RAINBOWS: J. Borg, C. Conceicao, R. Grech, M. Spiteri, D. Falzon, K. Cutajar, B. Muscat, S. Nanapere, M. Tabone, T. Nonato, R. Faria
Referee: Daniel Casha
Scorers: Falzon (T) 4; Faria (T) 21, 34; Tabone (T) 30; Nanapere (T) 48; Mallia (S) 81 pen; Nonato (T) 90 pen.
Best Player: Ricardo Faria (Tarxien Rainbows).
LIJA ATHLETIC 1 ŻEJTUN CORINTHIANS 3
SWIEQI UNITED 1 FGURA UNITED 0
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 0 PIETÀ HOTSPURS 1
LUQA ST ANDREWS 0 QRENDI 2
ST ANDREWS 1 MARSA 1