City misfire in Honved tie Published on: 15-03-2018

In 1980-81, the three Maltese clubs competing in Europe had mixed fortunes when the draws were made.

Sliema got the best draw when they were drawn to play against mighty Barcelona in the first round of the UEFA Cup. The Blues did not harbour any hopes of qualification but they were sure of making a bundle when they met the Spaniards at the Stadium. For the second year running, Hibs’ opponents in Europe came from Ireland.

Waterford were not considered as one of the best teams in the Cup Winners’ Cup and Hibs did not hide their ambition of eliminating the Irish team.

Therefore, like Sliema, Hibs had something to look forward to. The same however, could not be said of Valletta. The Citizens were unlucky to draw Budapest Honved in the first round of the Champions Cup.

This draw left them with no chance of qualifying and with little hope of making any profit against a team which was largely unknown in Malta.

Valletta opened the season on Monday, September 8, 1980 with the Independence Cup match against Sliema Wanderers.

A couple of days earlier, Sliema had lost the opening match of the competition against Hibernians by the odd goal in five.

Against Valletta, the Wanderers did not fare much better. This time they lost 1-2 with a performance which greatly disappointed their supporters.

Although they did not set any houses on fire, the Citizens were still too good for the Wanderers who left the Stadium accompanied by the hoots and boos of their own supporters.

Nardu Farrugia scored both goals for Valletta with Chris Vella responding for Sliema.

The final match between Valletta and Hibernians ended in a 2-2 draw which left everything undecided.

The Malta FA announced that a decider would be played later in the season but for some reason the game was never held. Valletta’s adventure in the Champions Cup was short and uneventful.

The Maltese champions were beaten twice by a team which was superior in every department of the game.

At the Stadium, poor finishing and a weak defence let the City down.

Honved exploited Valletta’s weaknesses to the full and went back home with a comfortable 3-0 victory.

During the first half, Honved played the ball on the ground and caused many anxious moments for the City defence.

In Nagy and Garaba, the Magyars had two splendid midfielders, while centre-forward Esterhaszy and winger Kuti combined perfectly on the left-flank where most of the danger kept coming from.

The game began quietly with both sides having some exchanges in midfield but in a fast counterattack, the Magyars opened the score when Kuti served Esterhaszy who beat Mifsud easily.

Five minutes later, Bodonyi made it 2-0 with a shot on the turn from the edge of the penaltyarea.

In the second-half, the heat seemed to be having its effect on the Magyars and they were forced to defend for long periods by an aggressive City forward-line in which Farrugia and Carlo Seychell excelled.

Poor finishing however, badly let the Citizens down.

Valletta continued to pile on the pressure but much against the run of play it was Honved who added to the score.

The debacle was continued in Hungary when Honved trounced Valletta by eight goals to nil.

Valletta arrived in Budapest only a few hours before the match.

The Maltese suffered an additional handicap of having to play in borrowed jerseys and boots because some of their luggage went astray on the flight to Budapest.

Bodeziyi opened the score for Honved and a minute later Garaha headed home the second goal.

The City defence steadied over the following 20 minutes and they even attempted to create an attack or two. The respite, however, was short-lived as in the 26th minute Estherkazy volleyed the ball home.

One minute from the interval, Koncis scored the fourth goal and early in the second period, Dajta added two more in quick succession.

In the closing stages, Varga scored two more goals, the last one from the penalty-spot, to wrap up a crushing victory.

Carmel Baldacchino -