A five-star performance against Sliema Wanderers last weekend ensured that Sirens will remain in Malta’s top-flight for another season.
Led by coach Winston Muscat, Sirens needed a win to stay up after Valletta’s late leveller denied Balzan and they responded by dispatching of the already-relegated Wanderers with a 5-0 scoreline.
After launching their Play-Out commitments with a defeat against Valletta, the future of Sirens in the Premier League was looking less secure but ultimately they can now take a sigh of relief and start projecting the 2022-23 campaign.
“Until two months ago, we were thinking about staying with the top six teams but we ended up playing in the Play-Out,” Bogdan Gavrila of Sirens told the Times of Malta.
“Obviously, we are pleased to have stayed up as now we can play without pressure in the remaining games.”
Gavrila propelled Sirens to the Sliema win with a brace as he has now scored eight goals and produced four winning assists in this season’s Premier League campaign.
The 30-year-old was one of the experienced elements in the Sirens team on which Muscat banked his hopes of reaching their goal.
This year’s Play-Out campaign is very strong with the likes of Valletta and Balzan among the six teams forming this section of the league.
After dropping into the Play-Out on the final day of round two, the situation looked dangerous for Sirens as they had to contend salvation with important teams. Other than Valletta and Balzan, Sta Lucia had bolstered their hopes with the appointment of experienced coach Giovanni Tedesco while Mosta were one of Malta’s representatives in Europe this season and boast a lot of quality and experience in their side.
“In the beginning of the season, no one put Sirens among the favourites to stay in the top six,” Gavrila explained.
“After the first round though, we looked solid and our aim was to maintain our place but we could not reach that objective.
“Mentally it was difficult to start this Play-Out with a defeat and this section is very difficult, especially because if you fail to win your first two or three games, you are in trouble.
“All these games in this part of the season are six-pointers and are all competitive because everyone wants to stay up.”
Gavrila also highlighted that a team like Sliema – whose fate is already sealed – can give you a hard time because the longer you take to find the net, the more difficult it becomes to crack an organised and compact side.
For the Romanian player, this is his second spell in Maltese football after donning the colours of Valletta during the 2018-19 season.
Asked about the differences he found in these three years, Gavrila pointed out that a 12-team league made Maltese football more competitive.
“When I was at Valletta, there were 14 teams and to be honest, it was far more straightforward,” he explained.
“With 12 teams, then divided into six with five games left becomes much more difficult – the final round is hard for the top six who fight for the title and European places, let alone for the bottom six who are embroiled in a relegation battle.”