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Collective effort key for Hibernians as Valletta seek quick turnaround

Valletta defender Jean Borg is tackled by Ali Diakite, of Hibernians. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

A rampant Hibernians made it 18 positive results in a row after cruising past Valletta with a 4-1 victory that reflects their domination in this 2021/2022 Premier League campaign.

The Paolites are the only team without a defeat as they pose the question of who is going to beat them if anyone at all.

Stefano Sanderra’s sterling work to forge a solid team has worked like magic for the Italian tactician, having always produced exceptional results since taking over at the Maltese club.

From a players’ point of view, the Hibernians’ squad has numerous figures that can be considered as leaders – case in point Andrei Agius, the club captain whose charisma is crucial for his team’s cause and Jurgen Degabriele, the technical leader that has now hit the 80-goal mark for Hibernians after his Valletta brace, per Transfermarkt.

Degabriele and Agius’ leadership is also highlighted as they heaped praise on the collective effort shown by Hibernians in the win against Valletta.

“Our teamwork is what makes us strong and what helps us win points week after week,” Degabriele said after the match.

Hibernians’ next run of games will pit them against Birkirkara and champions Ħamrun Spartans but Degabriele is not fazed about the challenge that these two teams will bring to the table.

“To be honest, all games are difficult because every team is competitive and that is why we are seeing a fairly-balanced championship this season,” the Malta international explained.

“Nonetheless, we are always willing to do our best and make sure to maintain our four-point lead at the summit of the championship.”

Defender Agius, who announced his retirement from international football earlier last week, echoed his team-mate’s thoughts as he praised the collective effort shown by his fellow Hibs’ players.

“Being wary in both defensive and offensive phase is the recipe for every team’s success, and I think that can only happen if there is a proper team chemistry,” Agius said.

“Despite their position in the table, Valletta is still a difficult team to face but we defended very well and were clinical enough upfront to take three points.

“It is imperative that we maintain this collective effort to obtain positive results, especially in the upcoming fixtures.”

Meanwhile, Valletta are now winless in seven games and have ended on the losing side in the opening two games under the new guidance of Danilo Doncic.

The Serbian coach, who replaced Toze Mendes, lamented the early goal conceded and the team’s low morale for Valletta’s downfall against Hibernians.

“Congratulations to Hibernians for the win and obviously it was hard for us after conceding an early goal in this game which changed completely our game plan,” Doncic said.

“Although we tried to control the game through our ball possession, we were not effective enough especially upfront.

“Unfortunately, we are going through a rough patch and we have to do our best to turn the situation into our favour as quickly as possible.”

Doncic believes that one win could inject his team with further confidence and the next games against Sta Lucia and Sliema Wanderers will be a good opportunity for the Citizens to start picking up points again after three straight defeats.

“Step after step we will start to gel the team and form the best possible starting formation for this team,” he pointed out.

“I think we played some good football at times against Hibernians and I am pleased to notice that some players are already getting back to their best shape… I believe we can be stronger in a couple of weeks’ time.”

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