Preview Day 3: Valletta vs Birkirkara Published on: 12-09-2015

All eyes will be on Paul Zammit tomorrow as he faces Birkirkara for the first time since ending his tenure as Stripes coach this summer to return to Valletta.

Zammit’s first encounter with his former club has inevitably added spice to the first 2015/16 league
clash between Valletta and Birkirkara who will be looking to land an early blow in the fledgling campaign.
While Zammit will be eager to maintain Valletta’s perfect start, Birkirkara coach Giovanni Tedesco will be determined to outwit his opposite number as he bids to restore his team to winning ways after a 2-2 draw against Tarxien before the international break.

“I define it as the right opposition at the right time for us,” Tedesco said of tomorrow’s game. “We need to provide important answers on the field of play, both for ourselves, for the public opinion and certainly for our fans.”

“If all goes well, this is a game which, as Roma coach Rudi Garcia once famously remarked, can put the church in the centre of the village,” Tedesco added.

“We are in a good state as we have recovered all the players. “The national team players were tired when they reported back from international duty but satisfied to have produced positive erformances for their country.”

Ryan Scicluna and Edward Herrera are expected to earn a recall after regaining their fitness.
The availability of Brazilian striker Liliu, who left Birkirkara in search of pastures new after the Europa League commitments only to return a few weeks later, is a tonic for Tedesco who is also hoping to receive the all-clear to sign young Colombian striker Miguel Montano.

Switching his focus to Valletta, Tedesco is wary of their attacking threat. “They have an important squad,” he said. “They are strong in the attacking phase, they have more quality there. I’ve watched their games in Europe as well as the two they have played in the domestic championship and the stamp of the coach, Paul Zammit, is already apparent.”

For his part, Zammit is looking at the broader picture after the club embarked on a new project this summer. “The picture is clear… we must recognise the fact that, this year, Valletta FC have started a new chapter and this is not just because we have brought in new players but also in terms of structure,” Zammit said.

“When you change direction, you have to start gauging yourself in many different ways and this is why all games are important for us. “There is no denying that we’re going to play against one of the main challengers for the title.

“I know what I’m talking about because I was at Birkirkara. They already had a strong squad last season but this summer they have invested heavily in new players.

“Birkirkara are regarded as the no.1 favourites for the title. “This term, they have missed out on the Super Cup and that means that the championship and FA Trophy are two enormous targets for them.

“Having said that, we can’t discard what we’re doing at Valletta. “We have to believe in our work.” On the prospect of taking his place in Birkirkara’s opposing dugout for the first time in six years, Zammit said: “I’ve experienced this before. For the past 11 years, I’ve lived this fixture on different benches as I spent four years at Valletta and six as coach of Birkirkara.

“Every match gives me a particular emotion. You can’t ignore the fact that I spent the last six years with Birkirkara but Valletta is my club now.”

Zammit is still assessing the fitness of captain Jonathan Caruana who has made good progress in his recovery from an adductor injury that shattered his hopes of playing in Malta’s Euro 2016 qualifiers against Italy and Azerbaijan.

Source - Times of Malta