While distance can’t be considered a determining factor in Malta due to the size of the island, this has never diminished the enthusiasm towards local football derbies. More so, when both clubs are fighting to avoid relegation from the BOV Challenge League, matches like these carry an added level of importance.
Last weekend’s match between Mqabba and Qrendi provided a spectacle for fans in the stands as despite missing a penalty, the former managed to take a close 1-0 victory through an Omar Khatib goal late in the second half, a win which Mqabba coach Goran Adamovic credits to the mentality and character of his players.
“The derby is very important both for people who love the club and for all of us who are there in the front rows at the game. This match had even greater weight and importance due to the state of the table,” Adamovic told the Times of Malta.
“As a coach, this is already my third derby and so far, I have a positive score. I hope it will remain so in the future. But the credit for everything belongs to my players who respected everything we agreed upon during the preparation for this game and I repeat all the credit goes to them.
“The match was difficult. we knew that our opponent was a serious team whose quality certainly deserves to be in the top six teams. We were patient and waited for our opportunities, and after the missed penalty we did not fall and lose morale, which for me as a coach, means a lot and shows that the players have the right mentality and character.”
Mqabba currently sit in sixth place of the Challenge League’s Playout group with nine matches to go, which means they will have to keep up this level if they are to maintain their status in the division. Qrendi, on the other hand, have had a particularly troubled season and are three places below in ninth.
“It is difficult, but that’s why in the end, when we achieve our goal, we will appreciate this whole journey more,” Adamovic explained.
“We have one of the youngest teams in the league, we have a limited budget that cannot be compared with the rest of the teams we are fighting with. But on the other hand, our incomes are regular and there are no delays in payments to domestic players or foreigners, that is the club’s policy which I respect.
“We knew even before the start of the championship that it would be difficult because six teams are required for the lower level of the competition. I think it is important both for life and for football that you always set new challenges and obstacles in front of you because that is the only way we can progress. If we are constantly in the comfort zone, we cannot progress.
“Until a month ago we were in a very unenviable position – we were nine points from the team that is in the safe zone. A month later, we are the team that is now in the best position and that holds its destiny in its own hands. Everything depends on us and I think that is the most important thing for now.
“It is up to us to continue working and preparing game by game as we have been doing until now. The most important thing is that we always do our best in every game and that we can look each other in the eye after every game.”
While destiny will play a part in their final position at the end of the season, Mqabba have managed to also secure three new players during the January transfer window to strengthen their squad.
“We brought in Boubacar (Kanta) and Jeremy (Azzopardi) to refresh the team and to expand the roster of players. We managed to sign Kurt Theuma from Qrendi on Monday and that was our last transfer for the season,” Adamovic said.
“My, and the policy of the club, is to give a chance to young players who have quality, but work and time are needed with them, and the coaches here are under a lot of pressure to win points, and then few have patience for young players.
“I don’t have that pressure from the club, we work in a nice harmony. I am the one who puts the most pressure on myself because my mentality and character do not allow me to settle for small things. For me, it is very important that my young players develop, and as people, that’s why I try to introduce them a little more to how important mental strength is.
“That’s why I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Adele (Muscat), who comes to give lectures to my players and
shows how important mental preparation is.”
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