Defending champions Birkirkara will be braced for another stern test as they will face Mġarr United in the second week of the Assikura Women’s League.
The Stripes are at the back of a thrilling 1-1 draw against Swieqi United which launched this year’s new-look women’s championship.
Birkirkara lifted last season’s title for the 10th time and they start in pole to retain the championship.
However, last week’s opener against Swieqi proved that their antagonists are growing and that the quest for the 11th might be one of the most challenging in recent years.
Malta international Alishia Sultana scored Birkirkara’s goal as she continues to establish herself as a key player at the club after last season’s 16 goals.
“I believe that all teams try to be at their best every season in order to challenge for the title,” Sultana told the Times of Malta.
“We launched our title defense with a draw against the team that we believe is going to be our main challengers in this season’s title race.
We have to analyse this game and make sure to cut the mistakes which cost us the victory.”
Despite the unavailable players, coach Borg could still rely on majority of last year’s core while the two new Italians – Marta Grosso and Gaia Milan – are showing they are a good fit for the Stripes’ cause.
“We are an experienced team and the winning mentality that reigns in the dressing room is what motivates us to win the three points every single time,” Malta women’s Sultana added.
“If the challenge for the title grows, that makes for a competitive championship and for sweeter celebrations should we triumph again.
Against Mġarr United we have to make sure to rally together if we want to record the first three points of the season.”
Mġarr, on their part, secured a comfortable victory over San Ġwann with Brenda Borg and Yulya Carella combining together to produce the seven goals scored by the Greens.
Borg, who is the captain of the team, scored 19 goals last season and has resumed where she had left off with four goals to cap an inspiring performance.
For Carella, these were her first competitive goals wearing the Mġarr colours after swapping San Ġwann for the Greens during the summer.
Michael Mangion is at the helm of Mġarr for the second straight season as they are looking to give another shot at the title after being Birkirkara’s main challengers in the past seasons.
Meanwhile, the first game of the week will pit Raiders Lija with Mtarfa. The Lija-based will be playing their first game of the season after serving a bye last week.
Led by coach Denis Guerra, Raiders have strenghtened their squad with a few interesting youngsters including Lexine Farrugia from Birkirkara, Ylenia Grech from Swieqi United and Żebbuġ Rangers’ Francesca Bartolo.
On the other hand, Mtarfa lost their opening game against Hibernians but have shown a lot of resiliency especially in the first half with their new acquisitions Jeanelle Falzon and Thea Scicluna proving to be good fits for Simon Spiteri’s side.
Elsewhere, Keith Gouder’s Hibernians will be looking to follow up their league opener win against Mtarfa by claiming the three points against San Ġwann.
The Paolites returned to the senior championship in fashion, scoring seven goals against Mtarfa including braces from Aleksandra Georgieva and Yolande Attard.
Under coach Jean Paul Attard, San Ġwann saw defeat in their opening game against Mġarr United as they are participating in this league for the second straight time.
Swieqi United will be serving a bye this week before returning in action in October when the championship resumes following October’s women’s international window.
THIS WEEK’S FIXTURES
Raiders Lija vs Mtarfa, Centenary Stadium – 20.30
Birkirkara vs Mġarr United, Centenary Stadium – 20.30
Hibernians vs San Ġwann, Mġarr Ground – 20.30
MD2 bye: Swieqi United.
Photo: Birkirkara FC.
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