Floriana and Birkirkara will be desperate to stay in the hunt for FA Trophy glory this season when they face each other at the National Stadium on Monday (kick-off: 7pm).
Undoubtedly, the direct encounter between Floriana and Birkirkara will draw a lot of interest as the two teams are playing out a very positive season in this campaign.
The Greens are embroiled in a two-horse race for the Premier League title as they trail leaders Hibernians by just two points.
On the other hand, the Stripes sit six points behind the Greens in third place. Both sides are looking to secure a European ticket as they meet twice in a space of a week. In fact, following today’s quarter-final, this distinguished fixture will be part of the Premier League’s next slate of games on April 23.
“Both games against Birkirkara will be very difficult for us,” Floriana coach Gianluca Atzori told a news conference.
Asked about which direct encounter he would like to win, Atzori said he would be delighted if his team would manage to advance into the semi-final of the FA Trophy.
“We are nearing our league objective of reaching European football, therefore I would prefer to win the semi-final game,” the Italian tactician said.
Floriana have a rich history in the Maltese cup competition with 20 triumphs and Atzori is aware of the high expectations that the supporters reserve for the FA Trophy every year.
“One of the things that I learned since embarking in Maltese football is that the cup is a very important competition, so we will do our best to make our supporters proud,” the former Serie A coach said.
European football is also a critical target for Birkirkara. The Stripes are well-placed to qualify through the Premier League as they are third on 40 points.
Nonetheless, a cup triumph would halt a six-year wait for a silverware. In fact, their last success was in this competition when they defeated Hibernians 2-0 in the final, back in May 2015.
Birkirkara’s assistant coach Jonathan Holland, who is born and raised in Floriana, highlighted the importance of the week coming up for his side.
“Playing twice in a week against Floriana is very difficult,” Holland explained.
“This week can determine whether our yearly work will pay dividends or not.”
Birkirkara have won this competition on five occasions.