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Unique philosophy paying dividends at Raiders Lija women

After four Matchdays in the Assikura Women’s League, there is only team that can boast a perfect record.

Raiders Lija have won all three league games they played so far, with a positive goal difference of 10 goals – 11 scored and just one conceded.

For yet another season, the team is led by Switzerland-born coach Denis Guerra whose blueprint on the Raiders team has helped the side become one of the most competitive sides in the local women’s game.

A breeding ground for young players, Raiders Lija have presented themselves with loads of talented players who are still in their nurturing process in this 2022/2023 campaign.

Despite missing Maya Lucia, who was a lynchpin in the Raiders Lija’s side in the past seasons and who moved to Genoa Women this summer, Guerra still managed to assemble an exciting squad following their summer recruitments.

One of the new faces is former Birkirkara starlet Lexine Farrugia, 2007-born, who has already repaid Raiders’ trust with seven goals in three games.

Two of those goals propelled Raiders Lija to a 2-0 win over Mġarr United last week which has put them in the league’s lead with nine points, two above reigning champions Birkirkara and Swieqi United.

For Guerra, the Mġarr win was testament to his team’s focus and concentration.

“I think sometimes the team lacks focus and we end up doing mistakes that cost us points,” Guerra told the Times of Malta.

“However, against Mġarr we managed to hold our ground and keep the concentration as high as possible, allowing ourselves to clinch three important points.

It was a very tough game, of course, because Mġarr have good players and is an experienced team but our family atmosphere is always a plus for us because everyone fights for each other and we managed to secure such a big win.”

Among the players who like Farrugia, decided to pursue their career at Raiders Lija were also Ylenia Grech (from Swieqi United) and Francesca Bartolo (from Raiders Lija).

Both players were in the starting formation against Mġarr and are considered among the most promising players coming up in the Maltese game.

Grech, born in 2005, is also the current U-20’s league top scorer with four goals while 2007-born Bartolo has one goal to her name in this category.

Asked about the integration of youth players and new faces to the Raiders Lija’s side, Guerra heaped praise on the technical staff across all categories who make sure to stick to one methodology in both training sessions and games, giving continuity to a project which has started around four seasons ago.

“When other players come in, whether young or experienced, they end up introducing themselves to a system that is already working,” Guerra explained.

“After a few weeks, they would have already adapted to our playing style and start to perform up to our standards.”

Hibs assignment

Trying to burst the Raiders Lija’s bubble will be Hibernians, who are at the back of two straight defeats against Mġarr and Birkirkara.

Guerra is wary of the difficulty of this game but remains upbeat about the chances of his team to stage up another solid showing against a competitive side like the Paolites.

“Hibernians are a good team, without a doubt, because they have some good individual players, they are very well-organised tactically and have speed up front,” the Raiders Lija’s coach said.

“Moreover, we are dealing with a number of injuries and for some of the players, this will be their fifth straight game in a very short period of time so there is a fatigue issue too.

Yet, we are all looking forward to display ourselves against a strong team and remain in good spirits to pick up points against Hibernians.”

THIS WEEK’S FIXTURES

TUESDAY
Mtarfa vs Birkirkara – Mġarr Ground, 20.30

WEDNESDAY
Hibernians vs Raiders Lija – Sirens Ground, 20.30

Mġarr United vs Swieqi United – Mġarr Ground, 20.30

MD5 bye: San Ġwann.

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