The old football adage warns that football coaches should never go back. Yet, success can be sweet when it comes second time around.
Giovanni Tedesco’s second bite at the Birkirkara cherry has been better for him than his first.
Tedesco’s first stint lasted less than six months having been appointed in 2015, though that first experience with Birkirkara saw him come within inches of securing a historic Europa League qualification over English giants West Ham United.
Last summer, there were arguably more coaches available to choose from, but Birkirkara decided to tapping into their nostalgia in an attempt to produce more cherished memories.
And the Italian tactician yet again delivered more success in cup competitions as the Stripes were crowned Izibet FA Trophy winners after beating Marsaxlokk 2-0 in last Sunday’s final.
“Hard work pays off always,” said Tedesco. “I remained calm, and I stuck to my principles. Wherever I got the opportunity to coach, I worked at very high intensity, and I’ve always acted in a professional manner,” the much-travelled coach added.
“A lot of the credit goes to these players, the club management who believed in my working methods and to the fans that drive us on,” he said.
This Birkirkara side has certainly honed Tedesco’s fighting skills but there’s clearly plenty of room for improvement.
“We are a young side, and this group of players has the potential to grow further,” he added.
Although Tedesco admitted that bridging the yawning gap with Ħamrun Spartans is an arduous task, the Stripes should look at how to improve as a team rather than comparing themselves with the Spartans.
“No club in Malta is capable of matching Ħamrun’s spending power, so it is impossible to bridge the gap but we only have to look at ourselves. We are a young group and should work to improve ourselves,” he added.
“The first trophy is the hardest one to win” – Yannick Yankam
Birkirkara midfielder Yannick Yankam stressed how important it was for Birkirkara to win their first trophy. He believes that it will all now get easier after this group of players won their first trophy together.
“I feel that if you win a trophy that we have the confidence to win more trophies,” he explained.
It was a season to remember for the Birkirkara midfielder, who improved remarkably under the guidance of Tedesco, formerly a midfielder at Palermo and Genoa in Serie A.
“At the beginning of the season, I set a number of personal goals, which I managed to achieve, including playing for the national team. However, football is a team sport, and no personal accomplishment is bigger or make sense without the team’s success,” Yankam, who has been nominated for the football of the season award, added.
Kurt Zammit, a home-grown product of Birkirkara, said that their season started on the wrong foot and the season did not really take off until January of this year.
“In the trophy competition, we were very consistent as we managed to eliminate the champions Hamrun,” he added.
“We got behind the coaches’ ideas and remained united, got the second place for the first time in many years (since 2013-14) and clinched a first honour in eight years,” he said.
Cain Attard admitted that it was a tough season as the odds were against them.
“To be honest with you, it was a tough campaign for us. We had a tough pre-season after everyone thought we will not perform well this season,” he explained.
“However, we put in good performances as we did this year from January onwards and we wear our hearts on the sleeves, we can bridge the gap with Ħamrun,” he exclaimed.
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