Preview - Day 09 Valletta vs Tarxien Published on: 22-10-2016
Valletta will be aiming to stay on the winning trail when they meet struggling Tarxien Rainbows this evening at the Hibernians Stadium (kick-off 5pm) but they will have to do it without their first-choice goalkeeper Henry Bonello who was slapped with a three-match ban in midweek.
Bonello’s expulsion after he lashed out at Gżira United midfielder Gianmarco Conti during a set-piece action put a damper on Valletta’s 3-1 victory, their first after a four-match winless run, and raised question marks about their disciplinary record as the champions have had four players sent off in their opening eight league games.
Admitting that his team have been hit hard by red cards, Valletta coach Paul Zammit urged his players
to be more responsible.
“We are coming from a period when we suffered a number of red cards,” Zammit told Times of Malta.
“Claudio Pani, Leandro Aguirre, Umeh Calistus and Henry Bonello have been sent off this season.
Every time we lose a player to a red card, it causes concern, especially when it’s self-inflicted.
“When a player is dismissed for a misconduct offence, it’s unacceptable but not all the red cards we’ve
had this season have been due to poor behaviour. As a squad, we’re looking into this. We need to be
“Every player and every member of the technical staff representing Valletta FC on matchday must act
responsibly.” After seeing his team pick up only two points from their previous four games, Zammit is hopeful that last weekend’s victory over Gżira United signals an upturn in his team’s fortunes as the champions are now five points off the top.
“We were coming from a difficult spell before our last game against Gżira,” Zammit remarked. “The situation didn’t affect the tranquility within our squad but the results were not coming our way and many things had gone against us as we also had to deal with a string of injuries and suspensions.
“We had to change our formation two or three times and if you don’t have continuity in the squad, you
can’t achieve continuity in terms of performances.
“We’ve taken a lot of positives from our last game but we now need to stay consistent as we have another difficult game.
“Tarxien are no pushovers. They have given a rough ride to all the teams ever since they established
themselves in the Premier League.
“This season, they haven’t started as strongly as last year but one thing I noticed about Tarxien is that,
whenever they had their backs against the wall, they were capable of making a reaction.”
Apart from Bonello, suspended, Zammit is also missing veteran midfielder Roderick Briffa who is recovering from cruciate surgery. For his part, Jacques Scerri, the Tarxien coach, is still without winger Ayrton Azzopardi, who is still waiting to do a cartilage operation, but Julian Galea and Matthew Tabone are in line for a squad recall after recovering from injuries.
Scerri is happy with his team’s underdog status ahead of today’s clash with Valletta. “They are the reigning champions and everyone is aware of Valletta’s strength, both individually and collectively,” Scerri said.
“They are always well-prepared, tactically, but we have nothing to lose, we are the underdogs and all the pressure is on Valletta.
“We go into every game with the aim of giving our best, put on a good performance and try to get a result.”
Tarxien are one of a trio of teams with nine points from eight games, only two above second-from-bottom
Mosta, but Scerri is adamant that his team’s position in the table belies their performances this season.
“Our team underwent a lot of changes from last season,” Scerri said. “Some key players left and all
teams need time to gel when new players come in.
“Results-wise, it has not been a positive season for us so far but we have seen notable progress in our
performances. “We were the better side in all games bar the defeat to Birkirkara and we should have more points than we actually have.”
Source - Times of Malta
Source - Times of Malta