Floriana coach Gianluca Atzori is determined to lead his team to victory in Sunday’s FA Trophy final when they face arch rivals Valletta at the National Stadium.
Floriana will surely head into today’s showdown with a psychological edge over Valletta as the Greens have prevailed in both league meetings this season.
Added to that they also hold the edge in terms of head-to-head meetings in FA Trophy finals as from their previous eight meetings in this showcase, Floriana have five wins against Valletta’s three.
The Greens are approaching this final in great confidence after a remarkable campaign which saw them mount a strong title challenge to Hibernians, which has only seen the Paolites prevail in the closing stages of the league season.
Coach Gianluca Atzori said that winning today’s final against Valletta would be the perfect way to crown what has been a very remarkable season from Floriana FC.
“We are really geared up for this final,” Atzori told the Times of Malta.
“My players are heading into this final after they performed so well in the league championship, where against all odds, they managed to finish in second place.
“This is a very important final for us as we are really keen to win the FA Trophy. We are aware that it’s not going to be easy as a derby always carries a lot of risks. But during the year the team worked really well and we will bring with us all the positive things that we have done and hopefully we can apply them on the pitch to ensure we prevail in this final.”
Atzori admitted that the past season has been no short of challenges, particularly after his team suffered a 4-1 defeat to Hibernians that hit badly their hopes of winning the title.
However, he admitted that the club’s convincing victory over Birkirkara in the FA Trophy quarter-final turned out to be a major turning point as from then on the team recovered their attacking verve that distinguished them in previous months.
“I think that the lowest point of our season was when we lost to Hibernians 4-1 in the league,” the former Sampdoria coach said.
“We carried that defeat for the next three league matches where we lost to Gżira United and drew with Hibernians and Ħamrun Spartans. But then the turning point for us was our victory over Birkirkara in the FA Trophy quarter-finals that restored the confidence in my players and from then on we never looked back.
“Then in the semi-finals, we again faced Hibernians and we managed to finally avenge that defeat by knocking them out of the cup. Now we find ourselves ready to play what promises to be a great final against Valletta.
“I know that being a derby there is a lot of expectations from our fans. We will try to turn this expectation into a positive energy to try and inspire our players to give everything they have so that they can bring the trophy back at Floriana.
“This is a final that we are desperate to win and we will do everything in our power to reach this objective.”