Gżira United coach Darren Abdilla hailed his team’s tactical organisation as the Maroons on Sunday gave another strong indication they have what it takes to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title, when coming from behind to beat Hibernians 2-1 at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.
When Ferdinando Apap put Hibernians ahead with less than ten minutes to go till the end of the first half, it looked as though that Gżira were set for a frustrating day in the office.
However, Abdilla’s tactical tweaks at the interval proved decisive as Gżira United managed to turn defeat into victory, courtesy of two goals from their lethal forward Jefferson to preserve their unbeaten record in the league this season.
“I am really proud of the effort put in by my players,” Abdilla told the Times of Malta.
“Looking back I can’t fault my players for their performance in the first half as we were containing Hibernians very well and only conceded the goal from a set-piece. However, having the opportunity of making four changes after the break was a huge shot in the arm for the team.
“We knew that we were facing one of the best teams in Hibernians, who were in high spirits after a commanding victory over Mosta the previous match. But we prepared well for the match and the players followed to perfection our tactical plan.
“And then when you have a player of the quality of Jefferson, who can single-handedly change the course of a match with his individual brilliance, proved decisive as his goals won us the match.”
Abdilla said that limiting the efficiency of the Hibernians midfielders was a key component behind their come-from-behind victory.
“Hibernians have quality all over the pitch and we knew that we couldn’t let them dictate the match,” Abdilla said.
“We pressed them higher up the pitch with our confrontation line moved more forward to ensure we make their distribution of the ball more difficult. We didn’t give space to Ali Diakhite to play the ball as he would have liked. We knew that Bjorn Kristensen is capable of playing dangerous long balls so we made sure to stop him from doing that.
“Added to that, everyone knows how dangerous Jake Grech can be with his runs into the box and Jackson Mendoza did a fine job to stop his incursions. As you can see it was a team effort and I’m so proud that the players did it to perfection.”
Despite the win over Hibernians, Abdilla is not getting too carried away and said that the win against Hibs will mean nothing if they don’t maintain a high level of consistency in terms of results.
“Consistency is crucial if you want to challenge for the main honours, particularly the Premier League title,” Abdilla said.
“So far, we are still unbeaten after four matches with two wins and two draws. We dropped points against Gudja, in a match where we were with a player less for much of the match but we still managed to fight back and take a point.
“Against Marsaxlokk, we may have not created a high number of chances but their goalkeeper still managed two outstanding saves to deny us a win.
“But no doubt, going on a winning run is crucial if we are to challenge for the main honours and our focus during this international break is to continue to work on various aspects of our game to ensure we can continue to grow as a team.”