A goal in each half was enough for Birkirkara to defeat rivals Mġarr United and clinch their 10th women’s championship, on Wednesday night.
With two games left, Birkirkara boast a 12-point lead over second-placed Mġarr which reflects the dominant campaign the Stripes enjoyed this season.
Gabriella Zahra opened the score for the Stripes with a close-range effort before Gozitan player Tracy Teuma converted from the penalty spot to the delight of the Birkirkara clan.
For Birkirkara, this is their fifth title in the last six seasons with last year’s being the exception after it was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic that had halted the local game.
The Stripes are now just two titles away from Hibernians who lead the all-time winners’ list with 12.
Coach Melania Bajada has now guided the Stripes to four championship triumphs as Birkirkara remain the team to beat in the Maltese women’s game.
“I have to thank all the players, the staff and all committee members for this success,” Bajada told the Times of Malta.
“The players have been amazing throughout all the year, so I have to dedicate this title to them.”
In 16 league outings, Birkirkara found the net on 66 occasions and conceded just four times.
Bajada’s side is still unbeaten so far as they stretched their league run to 66 games – three shy from the domestic record set by Hibernians at the turn of the century.
As regards their scoring record, 27 of the 66 goals scored were grabbed by Alishia Sultana (13), January signing Patricia Lamanna (7) and Veronique Mifsud (7).
For Bajada, though, it has not always been plainsailing, in particular, due to the injuries that sidelined some of her key players throughout season, namely goalkeeper Janice Xuereb, defender Stephania Farrugia and youngster Lexine Farrugia.
“In the beginning, the title race was poised to be a very challenging one,” Bajada admitted.
“At the same time, we were starting to be hit by several absences due to injuries, but it was at this time that the quality in the depth of our squad started to emerge.
“For example, in this game against Mġarr, I had the likes of Janice Xuereb and Stephania Farrugia unavailable but I still had enough quality players to replace them and I feel that this was one of the key factors that allowed us to stay on top of the pile.”
Bajada pointed out that while Mġarr and Swieqi United dropping points was crucial in the process of winning this title, she always remained focused on how to improve her side game after game.
After wrapping up this title, Birkirkara will now shift their focus on the domestic cup where they will hope to repeat the success they had in the last three editions that were held prior the COVID-19 in 2020 – between 2017 and 2019.
Birkirkara will launch their cup quest in the quarter-finals where they were pitted against Mġarr.
THIS WEEK’S RESULTS
Swieqi United vs Kirkop United 5-1
(Fernanda Peinado 19, 21, 32; Alexis Espitia 25, 28 (S). Rodianne Zerafa 32 – K).
San Ġwann vs Mtarfa 2-0
(Yulya Carella 40, Kylie Pantalleresco 65)
Mġarr United vs Birkirkara 0-2
(Gabriella Zahra 7, Tracy Teuma 66 pen.)
STANDINGS (AFTER MD18)
BIRKIRKARA – 46 POINTS (CHAMPIONS)
MĠARR UNITED – 34
SWIEQI UNITED – 31
RAIDERS LIJA – 25
KIRKOP UNITED – 15
SAN ĠWANN – 4
MTARFA – 4
Photo c/o Stephen Gatt.