2000-01 – The MOST REMARKABLE SEASON
(Standing): J. Borg (Ass. Coach), L. Grima, D. Carabott, S. Pace, J. Chetcuti, D. Debono, D. Theuma, K. Manolov (Coach), J. Caruana Curran (President), K. Dvorak, J. Buttigieg, P. Mraz, J. Agius, J. Zerafa (Ass. coach).
(Seated): Dr P. Sammut, A. Coleiro (Masseur), R. Forace, I. Zammit, N. Saliba (Ass. Captain), C. Vella, R. Cini, S. Sullivan, K. Laferla (Captain), G. Agius, C. Oretan, A. Caruana (Kit Manager), J. Sammut (Ass. Kit Manager).
(Front): K. Zammit, J. Bondin, I. Zammit, A. Sacco.
In the season 2000/01, Valletta F.C. succeeded in breaking their own record when they won the five competitions organized by the M.F.A. and which record they made in season 1996/97. In 2000/01 Valletta F.C.won the six competitions offered by the Malta Football Association.
Six competitions because another one namely the Centenary Cup has been added, and which Cup confirms the 100th Anniversary of the M.F.A. foundation. This Centenary Cup is most prestigious as in the final, Valletta defeated rivals Floriana (3-1). One must mention that Valletta F.C. is the only team that ever won the five competitions organized by the M.F.A. as well as the six competitions namely: the Premier League, Rothmans Trophy, Centenary Cup, Lowenbrau Cup, Super Five Cup and Super Cup, all organized by the M.F.A. too, therefore with such a success we can say that the record of Valletta F.C. can only be beaten in a hundred years.
2000 Lowenbrau Cup
Standing: Kristian Laferla, Karl bonnici, John Buttigieg, Stefan Giglio, Karl Bonnici, Daniel Theuma
Squatting: Chris Oretan, Pavel Mraz, Reggie Cini, Gilbert Agius, David Carabott.
Date: Saturday 5th August 2000
Scorers: C. Oretan 18’, 36, 39’, D. Camilleri 72’
Valletta’s season took off to a bright start as the Lilywhites claimed the Lowenbrau Cup for the sixth time. The Citizen’s new signings seem to have blended well into an already established side and Manolov’s boys have sent a clear warning that they will be in the reckoning for this season’s campaign. Chris Oretan was the toat of the team as his hat-trick brought Sliema crashing down to earth and cruelly exposed their shortcomings in defence. This result should boost the side’s morale for the forthcoming season. Valletta took to this match without the services of the injured Stefan Giglio and minus the suspended Debobo, whereas prolific scorer Nenad Veselji was relegated to the substitutes’ bench. Kamil Dvorak was making his debut alongside compatriot Mraz. The Czech midfielder had a satisfactory outing and should prove an asset to the side in their long campaign ahead.
The Lilywhites stormed into the lead just after the first quarter. Laferla projected his freekick towards Oretan, who headed home past a static defence and a stunned Ernest Barry. Valletta extended the tie beyond their opponents’ reach in three minutes towards the end of the first half. Laferla was once again the provider and Nigerian striker Chris Oretan headed mercilessly past Ernest Barry.
Sliema hardly had time to realise what hit them before Valletta struck again. Gilbert Agius slotted the ball past a maze of players, and Oretan nipped in to tap home before Barry’s towering figure could clutch the ball to safety. Sliema Wanderers pulled one back in the 72nd minute, thanks to Anonam’s sterling work on the left as he served to substitute David Camilleri who powered home.
(Source: Times of Malta)
2000 Super Five Cup
Standing: Sean Sullivan, Karl Bonnici, Jeffrey Chetcuti, Kamil Dvorak, Daniel Theuma, Rennie Forace.
Squatting: Ivan Zammit, Pavel Mraz, Gilbert Agius, Chris Oretan, David Carabott.
Date: Saturday 30th December 2000
Scorers: D. Camilleri 26’, D. Theuma 31’, C. Oretan 52’, G. Agius 54’, I. Zammit 84’.
Valletta retained the Super Five Cup with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Sliema Wanderers. As happened in the Centenary Cup final victory over immediate rivals Floriana, Valletta reserved their best for the second half as they killed off their opponents with two lightning goals. The final whistle triggered great celebrations among the Valletta clan…the record-breaking Citizens remain on course for a unique six trophy feat as they have already secured three honours so far this season. On the back of their vintage performance of late, Sliema seemed to have a slight edge over a depleted Valletta side – Darren Debono, Kris Laferla, John Buttigieg and Stefan Giglio were all absent – going into the match and looked a solid bet for victory when David Camilleri gave them the lead.
But Sliema seemed to switch into passive mode after they broke the deadlock and this proved their downfall as the never-say-die Valletta, orchestrated by an excellent Ivan Zammit in midfield, remained composed and knocked the stuffing out of their opponents with two quick goals. Ivan Zammit was on the right spot to steer a Karl Bonnici free-kick but his goal-bound shot hit Massimo Grima’s body and rebounded to safety. It only proved a temporary reprieve for Sliema. From the ensuing corner, taken by Gilbert Agius, Daniel Theuma underlined his goal scoring form as he rose high to head past Ernest Barry.
Ivan Zammit’s vision had been conspicuous throughout the first half and was further highlighted in the opening minutes of the second half. He floated a crisp pass from the middle of the park which created havoc in the Blues’ defence. The ball squirmed into the path of Chris Oretan who beat Ernest Barry with a low shot. The City fans’ chants had barely died down when Valletta increased their tally thanks to a swerving Agius corner kick which eluded the entire Sliema defence and flew into the far corner of the net.
Valletta increased the lead, Ivan Zammit latched onto a defence-splitting pass by Gilbert Agius before lobbing the ball majestically over Ernest Barry’s head. A superb goal from a player who has continued to vindicate the trust shown in him by Valletta.
(Source – Times of Malta)
2000 – CENTENARY CUP
To commemorate the new millennium and a centenary of existence, the Malta Football Association organised a knock-out competition in 2000, namely the Air-Malta Centenary Cup. Teams from the Premier League and the First, Second and Third Division participated in this competition on a knock-out basis, and at the end of that, Valletta were left to face their neighbours and rivals Floriana in the final.
The match was won by Valletta; the score was 3-1. Unless it is decreed otherwise, this competition will now surface again in the year 2100!
VALLETTA: S. Sullivan, D. Theuma, K. Dvorak, K. Laferla (I. Zammit), D. Debono, J. Buttigieg, G. Agius, S. Giglio, D. Carabott, C. Oretan (R. Forace), P. Mraz (K.Bonnici)
FLORIANA: J. Haber, R.M. Gango-Rtsa, C. Ciantar, B. Said, J. Holland, G. Mallia, C. Mattocks (A. Zahra), R. Oba, R. Buhagiar, M. Caruana (A. Busuttil), E. Do Nascimento.
Referee: E.R. Zammit
Scorers: 15′ G. Mallia, 35′ C. Oretan, 76′ I. Zammit, 87′ G. Agius.
Yellow Cards: J. Holland, E. Do Nascimento, C. Ciantar, R. Oba, B. Said, S. Sullivan, D. Carabott, D. Theuma
Red Card: 66′ D. Carabott
A roar of approval pierced the Ta’ Qali air yesterday afternoon as Valetta were crowned team of the century by virtue of two late goals from Ivan Zammit and Gilbert Agius which earned them a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Floriana in the Centenary Cup final. Amidst talk of FIFA century awards and Malta FA centenary controversies, Valletta left no doubts about their merits as winners of this knock-out competition as they outplayed Floriana in this eagerly-awaited final, played in front of a sizeable crowd at Ta’ Qali. The fact that two of the most successful clubs in Maltese football were vying for this much-coveted trophy, marking the centenary of the Malta FA, only served to heighten expectations among the supporters of those sporting rivals. Floriana had reason to be upbeat about their chances of adding the Centenary Cup to their impressive array of silverware on the strength of their recent results, including a 4-1 defeat of Birkirkara in the semi-finals.
By stark contrast, Valletta’s uninspiring displays of late and news that Sunday’s league victory over Naxxar is in jeopardy reduced Valletta’s chances of lifting the cup in the eyes of critics and fans alike. But all that was forgotten yesterday as the Citizens overcame a difficult start and the second-half dismissal of David Carabott to crown a decade of success by winning the Centenary Cup. While Valletta cemented their place in the history of Maltese football, the roller-coaster career of their midfielder Ivan Zammit, until a few months ago a Birkirkara player, took another twist. Indeed, the diminutive midfielder lived up to his reputation as a player who steals the show on significant occasions as he came off the bench to steer his team to an important victory.
Although Valletta were the more adventurous side straight from the outset, the early exchanges provided little or no evidence that the Citizens would eventually cruise to an emphatic win. After 15 minutes of arid play Floriana seized the lead against the run of play; Congolese midfielder Rufin Oba made heavy way on the left, and slipped the ball to George Mallia who took a couple of steps before unleashing a powerful shot from a long distance which had the better of Sean Sullivan.
Sullivan and Jonathan Holland became the first players to earn a booking after the Floriana midfielder sent the Valletta goalkeeper tumbling to the ground as he tried to chase a lost ball. Sullivan went to confront Holland and both players were cautioned for their misdemeanours. Valletta’s response to Mallia’s stunning opener was restricted to a couple of speculative crosses which failed to unnerve the Floriana defence.
At the other end, the Citizens’ reshaped defence, which had Kamil Dvorak operating as left-back in the absence of the suspended Jeffrey Chetcuti, and the industrious Daniel Theuma deployed as anchor-man to counter the threat posed by Oba, betrayed signs of uneasiness at the start but settled down nicely as the game progressed. The Citizens made their territorial supremacy count 10 minutes from the interval. CSKA Sofia-bound Stefan Giglio retrieved possession outside the Floriana box and released Theuma with a crisp pass. As the Floriana defenders screamed for offside, Theuma surged forward before squaring the ball towards the unmarked Chris Oretan who stabbed the ball home.
Two minutes after the restart, Gilbert Agius was given a golden opportunity to put his team ahead. Mraz sent him clear, but Agius opted to wait for support rather than having a pot at goal with the Floriana defenders given plenty of time to regroup and clear the danger. On 54 minutes, a Giglio scorcher was spilled by Haber, but Oretan was a second too late to steer the ball home.
A minute later, Krassimir Manolov and Karim Bencherifa, the coaches of Valletta and Floriana respectively, along with the assistant referees raced to the centre of the pitch to quell a skirmish between the two sets of players after an incident involving Oba and Carabott neat the halfway line. Both players were shown a yellow card. Sixteen minutes into the second half, Holland’s chip was palmed away for a corner by Sullivan. Moments later, Sullivan was again forced into a difficult save to turn away another dangerous Holland free-kick. Manolov then effected his first substitution, hauling off skipper Laferla in lieu of Zammit, a move intended to add more flair to Valletta’s midfield. Carabott compounded his embarrassment on 66 minutes as he was sent off for a second booking for a foul on Holland. His sending-off forced Manolov into re-adjustments as the defensive-minded Floriana were now expected to bring some urgency to their game. But that never happened.
A swift interchange between Agius and Zammit paved the way for the latter to attempt a shot at goal but his effort trickled wide. Zammit redeemed himself 14 minutes from time as he volleyed home a Bonnici corner conceded by Haber on an Agius effort. An adverse situation for Floriana was greeted with a double substitution from Bencherifa who threw into the fray Albert Busuttil and the nippy Antoine Zahra for Mario Caruana and Claude Mattocks respectively. But it proved to no avail as Valletta applied the killer touch three minutes from the end. Zammit turned provider as he spotted Agius lurking near the edge of Floriana’s box. The City striker evaded Gango-Rtsa, and swivelled before he whipped in a dipping shot past Haber and into the far corner of the net. A gem of a goal from the darling of City Fans. The referee’s final whistle triggered massive celebrations at the Valletta end. This reached a climax when Agius and Laferla hoisted the gleaming Centenary Cup. Valletta’s mission was accomplished…the team of the decade had turned team of the century!
(Courtesy of The Times of Malta)
2000-2001 LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
Standing: Sean Sullivan, Darren Debono, Jeffrey Chetcuti, Nicky Saliba, Daniel Theuma, Kamil Dvorak, Krassimir Manolov.
Squatting: Chris Oretan, John Buttigieg, Kristian Laferla, David Carabott, Gilbert Agius.
Date: May 1st 2001
Scorers: K. Dvorak 4′, 58′, D. Bogdanovic 84′, N. Turner 89′
A boisterous roar of approval emanated from the National Stadium yesterday evening as Kris Laferla, the veteran skipper of newly-crowned champions Valletta FC, lifted the Rothmans Premier League trophy for the fourth time in five seasons. The destiny of the league title was decided two weeks ago when the Citizens’ 2-1 victory over rivals Birkirkara meant that Krassimir Manolov’s troops had built an unassailable lead at the top. Yesterday the stage was set for the colourful City fans to celebrate in their inimitable style the 18th league championship.
Clad in white Valletta shirts and other carnival costumes and carrying flags, banners and balloons, the Valletta fans packed the enclosure and the Rothmans curve to watch their heroes’ last match before the presentation of the league trophy. A 2-2 draw with Sliema Wanderers, the club that had posed the biggest threat to Valletta’s bid for the title, was a fitting end to a highly fruitful campaign for the Citizens who remain firmly on course to complete a unique six-trophy haul.
With nothing to play for bar pride, Sliema mentor Vlado Pejovic fielded a depleted side with Carmel Busuttil, Orosco Anonam and David Camilleri all absent from the starting line-up. For most of the game, Sliema never looked like spoiling their rivals’ party but they salvaged some pride with a late comeback that produced two goals for a final 2-2 scoreline.
Czech midfielder Kamil Dvorak, 23 years yesterday, had his hair dyed red to mark the Citizens’ title triumph. He gave the champions the start they craved when he shot them ahead after just four minutes. Upon receiving a crisp pass from John Buttigieg, back in the fray after missing Birkirkara victory because of suspension, Dvorak centred before unleashing a powerful shot that had the better of Ernest Barry in the Sliema goal. Mark Anthony Bonnici was on the end of a fine Sliema move involving Michael Mifsud – who failed in his bid to equal Danilo Doncic’s record of 32 league goals in one season – and Zoran Antic but his effort smacked off against the post.
Oretan nearly doubled Valletta’s lead in 11 minutes, but his low shot after being sent clear by Laferla brushed the far post. A David Carabott piledriver brought a fine save from Barry as the champions continued to show the better ideas against a Sliema side that looked distinctively second-best in those early stages.
There was a certain hesitancy about Sliema, and Gilbert Agius almost made them pay the price, but his first-time strike flashed wide after Theuma had laid the ball into his path. Suitably irritated, Sliema upped the tempo and Sullivan was forced to charge out of goal to block on Mifsud who had been allowed to run past a static Valletta defence after receiving from Dimech. A free kick by Grima after 28 minutes went over. After their early pressure, the champions seemed to switch into cruise control seemingly content to protect their one-goal lead.
Even the hordes of Valletta fans went quiet after giving their heroes a rousing welcome, probably saving their energy for the Rio-style celebrations which were to enliven the capital later on in the night. Four minutes from half-time, Antic prevented Agius from making it 2-0 after the Valletta striker bore down on the Sliema goal unchallenged. A dangerous freekick from Grima whistled past Sullivan’s far post three minutes into the second half.
Twelve minutes after the change of ends, referee Lautier pointed to the penalty spot after Dvorak was bulldozed by Grima. The architect of the move which led to the penalty was the greathearted Saliba who shrugged off two aggressive challenges from Sliema players before putting Dvorak through.
Birthday boy Dvorak stepped up to take the penalty kick and duly dispatched the ball past Barry to put his side in the driving seat. That Valletta had gained a strong two-goal lead by the 58th minute was a reflection on their own effort and commitment against a hitherto passive Sliema side who badly missed the spark of Busuttil.
Saliba, who had a great match for Valletta yesterday, was replaced by Ivan Zammit 20 minutes from time. Soon, Zammit was presented with a fine chance to add to his team’s tally when he picked up a loose ball after Oretan’s menacing run toward goal halted.
Zammit went around Barry but after pausing for a moment to see whether any of his teammates were in a better position, the Valletta midfielder decided to shoot from a tight angle but Barry parried his effort.
Six minutes later, Sliema pulled one back thanks to substitute Daniel Bogdanovic who profited from a mistimed sortie by Sullivan before nudging the ball inside an empty net.
As the end of the match loomed largely, complacency crept into the Valletta team and the Blues, sensing their chance to restore the game to parity, fully exploited the situation as they equalized one minute from time.
The leaden-footed City defence was caught napping when Grima supplied a through pass towards skipper Noel Turner who beat Sullivan with a rising shot. Sliema’s late fightback, however, did little to blemish the spirit of the Valletta players and fans who went into a frenzy of delight when referee Chris Lautier whistled the end of the match.
(Source: Times of Malta)
ROTHMANS F.A. TROPHY
Date: Thursday 17th May 2001
Scorers: G. Agius 4’, K. Dvorak 70’, I. Zammit 85’.
Tactical discipline and deadliness in front of goal as Krassimir Manolov’s men, for the umpteenth time, rose to the occasion to outshine their bitter rivals who had been widely expected to give City more than a good run for their money. Indeed, Birkirkara should have had their greater motivation after surrendering the league title to Valletta, but in reality, John Buttigieg, Pavel Mraz, Kamil Dvorak, Nicky Saliba and Gilbert Agius were up for it as much as Joe Brincat, Michael Spiteri, Djorde Pintac and Antoine Zahra.
The scenes of celebration at the City clan, which accompanied the referee’s final whistle, were in stark contrast with the expression on the faces of the Birkirkara players and fans, the latter visibly distraught at the way their team had been outdone when pre-match suggestions had tipped their team for a victory. Valletta started the game looking purposeful, and after a Nicky Saliba shot was cleared by the Birkirkara rearguard, City drew first blood after four minutes.
David Carabott’s pass released Chris Oretan who squared the ball to Agius just outside the penalty area. The Valletta darling had all the time in the world to swivel and pick his spot, beating Savic with a low drive to send the hordes of City fans into a frenzy of delight. Eight minutes from the break Valletta should have doubled their lead but for a fine save by Robert Savic after a run by Kamil Dvorak. The latter was undoubtedly the champions’ liveliest player in the opening 45 minutes, his industry and craft giving Birkirkara all kinds of problems in the middle.
The Citizens then should have wrapped it up, but for once the famous clinical finishing of Chris Oretan let him down as he blasted the ball high with the goal at his mercy after a fine pass from Gilbert Agius. Man of the match Gilbert Agius was again the architect as he muscled his way past Michael Spiteri on the right before sending in a perfect cross to Dvorak who beat Savic from a point-blank distance.
Seven minutes from time Valletta were awarded a penalty when another sweeping counterattack saw Gilbert Agius expertly releasing Chris Oretan, but the latter’s surge to goal was illegally halted by Braunovic. The Yugoslav’s foul left Oretan needing medical attention, and in fact, he was considered unfit to continue. Oretan’s place was taken by Ivan Zammit who had a fairytale start to the game, slotting the ball home with his first touch of the ball after Savic saved Kamil Dvorak’s penalty. Valletta were now on cloud nine, knowing that the trophy was all but won.
(Source: Times of Malta)
ROTHMANS SUPER CUP
Date: Sunday 20th May 2001
Scorers: M. Grima 17’, C. Oretan 33’, K. Laferla 69’
Three days after winning the Rothmans Trophy at the expense of Birkirkara, the Citizens completed an unprecedented clean sweep of honours after they defeated Sliema Wanderers 2-1 to lift the Super Cup. The disciplined manner with which the champions won their sixth honour of the season was a continuation of a relentless pattern in recent matches.
Krassimir Manolov’s troops had to dig deep into their reserves of energy, or what was left in them, to emerge unscratched from this intriguing, vibrant encounter to which Sliema contributed enormously. Forced to live in the shadows of the Citizens for another season, Sliema made a mockery of pre-match suggestions that they would lie down, giving more than their best to end an otherwise disappointing season on a good note and to deny City a unique niche in the history of local football. As things turned out, however, Sliema ended their season in defeat but not in disgrace.
Mixed feelings of joy and relief gripped the Valletta players and fans as the referee signalled the end of the match. The exhausted City players embarked on a lap of honour as their fans celebrated in their inimitable style a record-breaking season. The game was barely two minutes old when Chris Oretan, latching onto a perfect pass from Kris Laferla, tested Reuben Debono, yesterday deputising for Ernest Barry who started on the bench, with a fine shot which Debono saved in two attempts.
Any notion that Sliema might not be up for the match was allayed in the 17th minute when Massimo Grima gave them an unexpected lead in rather controversial circumstances. The Champions were back in business 11 minutes from half-time thanks to their master executioner Chris Oretan who beat Debono with a low shot from an acute angle after receiving from Gilbert Agius.
Five minutes from the interval, Noel Turner made headway on the left before he whipped in an insidious shot that Sean Sullivan deflected to a corner. Sliema threatened to surge ahead on the stroke of halftime but Renie Forace was on the right spot to clear off the line an Antic shot.
A free-kick by Gilbert Agius on the 69th minute gave Valletta the lead, Agius eventually sent in a curling free-kick, Daniel Theuma’s goalbound header was kept out superbly by Reuben Debono, but Kris Laferla fired home the rebound. Gilbert Agius could have capped another vintage display with a goal in added time, but his low shot was parried by Debono after he exchanged passes with Ivan Zammit, a second-half substitute for Kris Laferla.
(Source – Times of Malta)